2018 South Pacific/New Zealand/Australia Cruise Log

Prologue -January 25, 2017

Regent has opened up bookings for late 2018 and early 2019. We looked at all offerings and decided on a back-to-back-to-back cruise from Honolulu to Sydney. A call to Brenda at Travel Leaders and it was booked with our first choice of cabin (1003) on the Mariner.

October 31 - Pre-Cruise - Honolulu

It was an early wake-up (3:30 AM) with a pick-up from Vintage Limousine at 4:45. We were at Sacramento Airport at 5:30 and breezed through check-in and TSA. Our flight was scheduled for 7:25, but as 7:15 neared, and we were still the waiting area, we knew that we were going to be delayed. They finally told us at 7:30 that we would not leave until 8:45. That turned out to be the boarding time. We did not get off the ground until 9:25.
The plane was old and the First Class seats were not that comfortable. The entertainment system was a small tablet. I did watch a documentary and Matt watched 2 movies. We were served brunch: fresh fruit, croissant, quiche with sausage and cheesecake.
Some of our late time was made up in the air, arriving in Honolulu at 11:30, just about an hour late. We took the LONG walk from the plane to the baggage area. Our Regent representative was there and once we got our bags, we were off in the private van to the Alohilani Hotel.
Our first room was nice, but not 2 queen beds as requested. We asked to be moved, which they did, but it was a bit of a downgrade. At least it is clean and comfortable.
We then went out and walked the main shopping street right outside the Hotel and had an early dinner at the Cheesecake Factory.
By then, we were both tired, so went back to the Hotel and just relaxed in the room until bedtime...which was 7:00PM (10:00 home time), as we were worn out.

November 1 - Honolulu Departure

We awoke at 6:30 and slowly got ready for the breakfast buffet offered for us by the hotel. They had a very nice selection of items. Back to the room and re-packed a few things. We left the hotel via taxi at 10:15 and arrived at the cruise port at 10:30. There was a mix up and the porters would not accept any luggage until (they said) 12:00. Matt did a bit of arguing and used logic. They agreed with him and shortly began setting everyone's luggage in a holding area. They opened the security line shortly after 11:00 and then began the boarding process at 12:00. As we are at the Titanium level, we were allowed to get in line right away.
Once aboard, we went to La Veranda to get lunch and then sat at a table out by the pool to eat.
We were allowed to go to our cabin any time after 1:00 (being Titanium), so went there directly from lunch. Our luggage had already arrived. That was much earlier than any of the other cruises we have been on. I unpacked first and then went to the laundry room to iron the clothes I needed for the first 2 days. While I was doing that, Matt did his unpacking.
We met our butler, Yudi and talked with him about our wants and needs.
We finished setting up the room at 3:00 and Matt watched a movie until our 5:00 boat drill. That was followed up by the sail away where we chatted with a few of the entertainers and Cruise Director John Barron. We were onboard with him on our last cruise, so it was nice to see him again.
We went to dinner in Compass Rose, the main dining room, then went back to our room.

November 2 - Hilo, Hawaii

It was a quiet night with swells of 2-4 feet.
We slept in until 8:00, the time the ship arrived into port. Breakfast was in La Veranda with the usual assortment of items from the buffet. I must say, however, that the fresh pineapple was something I was looking forward to, and it did not disappoint.
As we have been to Hilo before and been on most of the tours provided, we decided not to schedule any. In fact, our first tour will not take place until we are in Bora Bora on the 11th.
Matt needed to pick up a few things, so we walked to a small local grocery store right outside the port, but they did not have what he needed, so we took an Uber to a Walmart. He got what he needed and we Uber'd back.
We were back onboard at 11:00 and hung out until lunchtime at noon in La Veranda. This was followed by some tanning time (for both of us). I stayed out a bit longer than Matt, who went back to the cabin and watched a movie.
We left Hilo at 4:00 with 4 sea days ahead of us. I can't wait to see how Matt deals with these, as he has already gone a bit stir crazy when we are not doing anything. He did do a load of laundry in the self-serve laundromat. They asked us to keep the laundry that we send out down a bit on these first two days as they are a bit overloaded with everyone who has free laundry service on this leg of the trip. We will be all caught up on our pressing, etc tomorrow.
I spent the sail away time on our deck on the lounge chair that I had asked to be placed there. It is going to be my happy place.
The high temperature today was 80 degrees. Before we left, the Captain said that we should be having swells of 4-6 feet tonight and will probably go through a few thunderstorms.
The Captain's reception was held at 6:00 where we took our usual photo with the Captain. We had Captain Green on our Alaskan Cruise and it was nice to see him again. He is one of the more visible Captains on the Regent ships.
Dinner was in the Compass Rose followed by a visit to the casino, where we both came out ahead. I'm sure that won't last. Aldwin is the casino manager and it was nice to catch up with him.
It was then back to the room to call it a night.

November 3 - Sea Day #1

This is the first of 4 sea days in a row. We awoke at 7:30 and had breakfast in La Veranda where we each had a made-to-order omelet.
I then went out to the pool to get some sun (although it was mostly overcast). After a half hour, we went through a rain storm, so I had to go back to the room, where Matt was resting. The motion of the ship was not sitting well with him.
At 11:00, I went to the "Cruise Critic Meet and Greet". This is a joint effort of the Cruise Critic website and Regent. There were 60 cruise critic readers/contributors who signed up and 48 showed. It was a nice get-together where we could put faces to the names of the people who answer questions or make comments on the site.
I re-joined Matt for lunch and then we both went to play Bingo. We were both within one number of winning on each of the 4 games. Frustrating.
Matt then went to the "Art of Stringing Fresh Orchid Flowers Lei" enrichment experience. He ended up making 2 beautiful leis. You can see them in the photo section.
While Matt was doing that, I went down to talk with the Cruise Consultant (Eddie) to clear up some issues we were having with our 2020 Asian Cruise. He was able to answer 1 of my 3 questions and will get us the answers to the others on Tuesday or Wednesday.
We both ended up back in the cabin around the same time and I went out on our balcony to watch the waves, and Matt watched a movie.
6:00 brought the "Shipwide Block Party", one of the events I enjoy. You take your wine glass out into the hallway and meet your neighbors while wine and canapés are served. This is not one of Matt's favorite things to do, so he got ready for dinner while I was in the hallway.
We decided to have dinner in Sette Mari, which is what La Veranda turns into at night. It features Italian specialties.
A visit to the casino followed (where Matt did quite well), then off to see "Tuxedo", one of the Production shows. They do 4 production shows per segment, so we spread out the shows over the entire cruise.

November 4 - Sea Day #2

We once again awoke at 7:30. No time change here last night, so we are now just 2 hours ahead of California time. Had our usual breakfast in La Veranda, then it was time for me to go lay by the pool, and Matt to go to the gym. My time was cut short as we went through another rain storm. So, it was back to the cabin to watch a movie until lunch time. They had an Asian BBQ by the pool, but it did not have anything to our liking, so we went into La Veranda.
Bingo followed at 1:00 and I won the 3rd game ($88.14). We were both only 1 number away on the last game.
After Bingo, Matt went up to hear about kukui nuts, coconut and seashell bracelets and to make one. I went up with him to get an extra bag of material so he could make two. I am waiting for him to do tomorrow's necklace lei of kukui nuts. While he was doing that, I went down to the casino to play a few of the slot machines. Matt's bracelets turned out beautiful, and I came out even.
We both finished around the same time, and I went out to my happy place on the balcony for sun and Matt watched a movie in the room.
Tonight's dinner was in Prime 7, the steakhouse. We both enjoy this restaurant, but it is less special than it used to be, as many of the meat courses are available nightly in the Compass Rose. However, getting onion soup and a wedge salad is something I always look forward to.
We once again visited the casino
where we both lost.
The evening was finished at 9:00.

November 5 - Sea Day #3

Up at 7:30 with breakfast in La Veranda. I went out to the pool to get some sun while Matt went to the gym.
10:00 brought the Equator Crossing Ceremony. Held by the pool, it is hosted by King Neptune (Cruise Director John Barron). Passengers who have never crossed the equator are called pollywogs. Those who have been across before are shellbacks. They take a few entertainers and a few passengers and slop them up and throw them in the pool as part of the ceremony. Usually they have the rest of the pollywogs kiss a fish, but they did not do that this time around.
Lunch today was "Indian BBQ". We passed by that and went to La Veranda instead.
Bingo, as usual, followed and then Matt went to make the kukui nut necklaces (which again turned out great!). I went up with him to get all of the materials to make a necklace and then left. This gave Matt the material to make the 2nd necklace. Meanwhile, I went to the casino and came out ahead.
Dinner was in Compass Rose followed by our night visit to the casino.
The actual crossing of the equator took place at around 8:30 PM.
Tonight is one of the weird time changes as we move our clocks ahead 1/2 hour. Never have understood the time zone that Nuka Hiva is in.

November 6 - Sea Day #4

Up at 7:30 again with breakfast in La Veranda. Both Matt and I went out to the pool to get some sun. Matt for an hour and I for an hour and a half.
Lunch was also in La Veranda, bypassing Burger Day at the pool grill.
Bingo was at 1:00, where I won again, but this time had to share with 5 other people. We each only won $16. Better than nothing. We sit next to Nancy and Susan at Bingo each day and have a fun time.
After Bingo, we went up to see what the craft project was. It was just taking a silk tuberose and wrapping green floral tape around the stem to make a flower that you can put behind your ear. Not what we wanted to make, so Matt went to the gym and I went down to the casino.
I came back and played a few games of Sudoku out on the balcony.
We went to the Seven Seas Society Cocktail Party at 6:00. This is for past guests of the ship. There will still be a Cocktail Party for those who are Gold level and above on a different evening.
There are 450 returning passengers to Regent on this cruise. 233 are Silver (over 21 nights on Regent), 133 Gold (75 nights or more), 44 Platinum (200 nights or more. Matt is in that category), 33 Titanium (400 nights or more. I am in that category) and 1 Commodore (2,000 nights or more).
Dinner was in Compass Rose followed by a quick visit to the casino, as they took our money very fast.

November 7 - Nuka Hiva, French Polynesia

I was up at 7, Matt at 7:30 and we had breakfast in La Veranda just as the ship was anchoring.
We have been here before and there is only one tour offered, so we decided just to go over on our own.
The first group tour was scheduled to leave at 9:45, so we went to the theater early to get a ticket on the first tender over to the island. We were told that it would be leaving before the first tour group, but it ended up that they boarded on our same tender.
Once on the island, we climbed a small hill where new carvings (one quite large) had been added since we were last here. From there, we took the half mile walk to the Cathedral. There is also a small park nearby with a few monuments, so we walked over to it.
We then walked back to the main drop off point and checked out a few of the items for sale before getting back on the tender.
We were back on the ship at 11:30, so decided to have lunch in Compass Rose. I had checked on the TV menu and it said they were serving the Asian ribs that they offer on Explorer, however, once we got there, they told us that they had changed the menu and that they were not available. They change the menu once a week, so we'll have them in a week when they bring them back.
After lunch, Matt edited our photos while I went to the pool to tan.
I received a call from Eddie, the Cruise Consultant, letting me know that they have adjusted the pricing of our 2020 Asian Cruise...in our favor, as I had thought. After 5 months of trying to get Regent to call us (and our travel agent) back with answers, Eddie was able to get it done in 3 days.
We looked at the menu of Compass Rose and decided to have dinner in Sette Mari. We followed that with a quick visit to the casino, as they were just taking our money.
Back at our suite, Matt watched a movie while I did some work on the computer.

November 8 - Sea Day

Another usual Sea Day with breakfast in La Veranda followed by sun time by the pool for me and Matt in the cabin watching a movie and organizing things.
We met up for lunch at the back balcony area of La Veranda as it was not windy.
What should be the final day of Bingo did not bring any winning for either of us.
Matt went to the arts and crafts class to learn how to "weave a hat band or lei". The instructor did not give any instructions, and Matt had to learn how to do it on his own. It turned out quite nice.
While he was doing that, I went to the casino and only lost $7. I followed that with laying out on our balcony reading the Los Angeles Times.
Matt came back and we watched  the first part of a movie together.
We had dinner in Compass Rose and another quick night in the casino before returning to the cabin to finish the movie. We skipped the Production Show tonight with the thought of catching it on another segment.
We turned our clocks back the one half hour we changed the other night. We are now back to 2 hours ahead of California time.

November 9 - Fakarava, French Polynesia

I awoke at 7:10, Matt at 7:30 with breakfast in La Veranda. As we were getting ready for breakfast, we were pulling into Fakarava and it was a bit choppy and I was sure that they would not let us get onto the tenders and go ashore. We ran into John Barron who was on his way to make the announcement that we were, indeed, going to be allowed to go.
Fakarava is one of the largest atolls in French Polynesia. We left the ship at about 9:15 and tendered into the main town of Rotoava. Now this is not much of a "city", just a few houses here and there along the one main road that runs the length of the atoll. The town has a population of 800.
There are no excursions here as there is nothing to see, except the one catholic church.
We had been here before, so we knew to walk the main road until it turned into a crushed shell road. This gets us just beyond the main areas where most of the passengers walk out into the shallow water to cool off and check out the coral on the rocks.
We found an area where only a few passengers were and went into the water for a few minutes.
We then walked about 2 minutes down a side pathway to get to the ocean side of the atoll. Nobody goes over there and we sat and watched the ocean for awhile. As it was very windy there, our plan to just lay out was not realized.
We then walked the main road back towards the tender pier, stopping at the grocery store and the local artisans building before going back to the ship.
We were back onboard at 11:40 and got ready for lunch which we had on the back balcony of La Verdana, looking at the atoll.
After lunch, I went up to the pool deck for a few hours while Matt edited his photos to post on Facebook.
When I came back to the cabin, he was watching a movie, waiting for me to resize the photos for posting.
Although we were scheduled to leave at 3:00, everyone was aboard early and we left at 2:30.
The rest of the afternoon, we watched a movie together and then decided to have dinner in our suite. I chose items from the room service menu and Matt ordered from Compass Rose.
After dinner, Matt stayed in the cabin to watch another movie while I went to the casino and did very well.

November 10 - Bora Bora, French Polynesia - Day 1

I was up at 7:00, Matt at 7:30 with breakfast in La Veranda. I then went out by the pool to tan while Matt went back to the cabin.
We met up for lunch on the balcony of La Veranda and then went to play Bingo. Neither of us won. This should be our last Bingo game of this segment with the next game scheduled for the 18th.
As Bingo was finishing, the ship was pulling into the motu to anchor. Everyone was up on the top deck taking photos of the beautiful Mount Otemanu on the island.
We did not have an afternoon excursion, so we stayed aboard. The passengers doing the whole Miami to Sydney cruise have a special event on the island tonight while the rest of us had the "Grand Deck BBQ" around the pool. This is always a beautiful event with a great selection of food. After we got our food and sat down under the cover of the upper deck, it began to rain. Everyone out in the open had to scatter. It only lasted a few minutes, then cleared, then rained again and cleared. They had scheduled the local Tahitian folkloric show "Here Ori" to perform on the pool deck at 9:00, but decided to move it inside to the theater due to the weather.
We decided to go to the casino for a bit before the show, but did not do well. Matt went back to the room and I caught a few numbers of the folkoric show, but went back to the cabin as we have to get up early in the morning for our excursion.

November 11 - Bora Bora, French Polynesia - Day 2

I got up at 6:30, Matt at 7:00. We had breakfast delivered to the room so we could be in the theater at 8:00 for our first excursion:


3 Hours

Sail a catamaran through the gorgeous lagoon surrounding Bora Bora, admiring the stunningly beauty scenery both above and below the water’s surface.

After departing from the pier, you will soon begin cruising the lagoon that surrounds Bora Bora, an island of almost mythical beauty. Settle in wherever you please, as the catamaran features trampolines for sunbathing, and shaded seating if you prefer a covered environment.

Because the catamaran has a shallow draft, it can cruise into areas off limits to other vessels, presenting you with spectacular, up-close views of the lagoon’s coves and Bora Bora’s iconic over water bungalows. You can expect the shoreline to be jungle-like with plenty of coconut palms swaying in the sea breezes. From this perspective, you will also enjoy an excellent view of Mount Otemanu, one of two extinct volcanoes rising from the center of the island.

In time, you will stop to swim and snorkel  (mask & snorkel provided) along a coral reef teeming with brightly colored tropical fish. Although the sights are ever changing, you can expect to see many of the most common species such as clown fish, yellow Moorish idols and emperor angelfish.

If you spot a blue parrotfish nipping at the algae clinging to the reef, it’s a male, as female parrotfish sport different colors. You might also spot graceful eagle rays, spinner and bottlenose dolphins, and perhaps a green turtle, a species ancient Polynesians held sacred.

We tendered over to shore and were immediately taken to the catamaran. We knew from a note from Destination Services that the sail on the catamaran was broken and that it would be a motorized trip. We went around the island and then anchored. The snorkeling was nice, as the water was warm. There was not a lot of coral. We had to swim out quite a bit to get to them, and there did not seem to be as many fish as there were in the past...and only a few types.
After snorkeling, we went back to the pier and walked down the main street of town, which is only about 2 blocks long. All the same stores in all the same places, so we made our way back to the tender.
We had lunch in La Veranda, although we got a bit of food at the pool deck as it was Tex/Mex day.
After lunch, Matt worked on his photos and I went out to the pool deck to lay in the sun for a few hours. I then went to the casino where I came out a bit ahead.
We had dinner in Compass Rose, then it was back to the casino where I did not do so well, but Matt came out ahead.

November 12 - Raiatea, French Polynesia

We got to sleep in an extra half hour this morning, with me up at 7:00, Matt at 7:30. Breakfast in the room before our 8:45 excursion:


3 Hours

Explore Raiatea's abundant flora and fauna during this journey through the island that includes a motorized outrigger canoe ride from Raiatea's lagoon to the Faaroa River with a beach break at one of the small islets.

Board your motorized outrigger canoe at the pier and glide over the waters of Raiatea's deep blue lagoon towards the mouth of the Faaroa River; Polynesia's only navigable river. Along the way, you will see wild hibiscus, or purau, bamboo groves, chestnut trees, ginger flowers and more. Your guide will also share a bit of Polynesian history and folklore about the famous voyages that emanated from this river to all of the islands in the Polynesian Triangle. As you navigate the river into Raiatea's interior, you'll see lush tropical foliage, verdant mountains and waterfalls.

Leaving the river, a stop will be made at a "motu" (islet) where you can swim and relax while enjoying some refreshments. Afterwards, you'll transfer back to the pier.

The excursion was as described. We had a true Polynesian guide who's ancestry goes back many years. He talked about the relationship of the land, trees and water and did a chant for us halfway through the river tour.
The motu, where we were for an hour, was very nice with picnic benches to sit at, and the opportunity to check out the "rock/reef" area.
We were back at the pier at 12:00 and we stayed ashore for a bit to look at the stores, but they were exactly the same as they were a few years ago.
We had lunch in La Veranda, then Matt went back to the room to edit photos while I went to the casino to be out of the way.
Afterward, I went back out to the town (2 blocks deep by 2 blocks wide) to the photo store to find a watch battery. They did not have any, but sent me to a pearl/watch shop that did.
Matt then watched a movie while I worked on this site, then went out on our balcony to my happy place to watch us sail away to Moorea.
We had dinner in Chartreuse, the French Specialty Restaurant. Because I am a picky eater, there is only about 3 items on the whole menu that I will eat, but that is enough to make a full meal.
We then went to the casino...where I did quite well, and then I wanted to catch a few minutes of Mark O'Toole, a singer who did a Barry Manilow show.

November 13 - Moorea, French Polynesia

An early morning for us. I was up at 6:30, Matt at 6:45. We anchored in Moorea at 7:45. This is my favorite island in the South Pacific, mainly because of  Mount Tohivea that juts up into the sky and is usually covered on top by cloud. It was clear for most of the day and the way we were anchored, our balcony faced the island and the mountain.
This morning was an 8:00 excursion:


3 Hours

Join marine biologist Dr. Michael Poole, a French-Polynesian dolphin specialist since 1987, or his assistant for this combination eco-tour and research expedition focusing on wild, free-ranging dolphins.

Depart the pier aboard a covered boat for the scenic ride to Moorea's reef. Spinner dolphins, the slightly larger rough-tooth dolphins and pilot whales can be seen around Moorea, with spinner dolphins regularly swimming inside the reef..

During your tour, you will also learn about French Polynesia's geology and evolution while viewing Moorea's dramatic beauty from the sea. Dolphins are found on 95% of the tours, but the engaging narrative and sheer magnificence of Moorea's coastline will ensure a rewarding time. Guests visiting between July and early November may also have an opportunity to view the humpback whales perform their annual mating and calving rituals.

Following your tour, you will have an opportunity to go swimming or snorkeling directly from the boat (time permitting) before being transferred back to the pier.

When we first got ashore and were loading the boat, Dr. Poole was quite pushy to everyone about where and how to sit, etc. It was not until later that he explained we needed to be up front to keep the motor from hitting the rocks in the shallow reef areas.
Once we got going, he was very informative about the spinner dolphins. In the first 2 areas we tried to spot them, we had no luck, so we went to the complete opposite side of the island and found 2 pods. We stayed there for about an hour just watching them and listening to Dr. Poole's long dissertations.
We got back to shore at about 11:45 and walked around the small gift display area before going back to the ship.
We had lunch in La Veranda, then Matt worked on his photos and I went out to the pool deck to tan, then to the casino where I did well again.
Afterwards, while Matt was watching a movie, I went out on our balcony to do a crossword puzzle while taking in the view of the island.
Dinner was in Compass Rose and we followed that with our usual visit to the casino.

November 14 - Papeete, Tahiti - Day 1

I was up at 6:15, Matt at 7:00 with breakfast in the room and then off for our 8:30 excursion:


4 Hours

Enjoy the natural beauty of the island’s west coast and cultural attractions such as an ancient open-air temple and a museum that focuses on Tahiti’s intriguing history.

After departing from the pier, you will settle in for a leisurely drive down Tahiti’s west coast along a highway that hugs the picturesque shoreline. Being the driest part of the island, this area features a wonderfully rugged landscape with one amazing view after another.

In time, you will arrive at Vaipahi Gardens, a tropical paradise of exotic vegetation, archaeological relics and serene ponds. The word “vaipahi” means “splashing water,” a reference to the garden’s gently cascading waterfalls. While walking along the trails, you may see lotuses in bloom and 100-year-old Tahitian chestnut trees.

Then, it’s on to Marae Arahurahu, the only completely restored ancient temple or marae in Polynesia. Meticulously maintained, this sacred site was once used for religious rituals, royal ceremonies and celebrations after military victories. The park-like setting is dotted with elevated altars, stone tiki figures, and curious red sculptures that represent the ancestors of influential local families. According to legend, the spirit of an ancient hero lingers here.

More cultural enlightenment awaits you at the Museum of Tahiti in the little town of Puna’auia. The museum is divided into sections devoted to topics that include natural history, pre-European culture, the effects of colonization and the island’s natural wonders. The exhibitions are quite revealing and provide a deep understanding of Tahiti’s past. After visiting, you will return to the pier.

This was a bus ride (we thought it would be via jeep). We started at the Marae Arahurahu and went ahead of the group (of 40) to get photos. We were there for about a half hour before going to the Vaipahi Gardens. So much for the "driest part of the island". It was a downpour. We got out our umbrellas...glad we took them...and walked the gardens. Although it was hard to get photos, we did manage a few. (Matt's flower photos are posted on his Facebook page). Final stop was a grotto area. It was at this point that I realized that this was a tour I did back in 2006.
We then headed back to the ship, bypassing the Museum of Tahiti.
We were back at the ship at 12:45 and had lunch on the balcony of La Veranda.
Matt then edited his photos while I went to tan at the pool deck, then went out on our balcony to do a few puzzles.
Dinner was in La Veranda followed by the casino where I did extremely well.
Checking the TV, we have traveled 2,956 nautical miles in this first segment of our tour.

November 15 - Papeete, Tahiti - Day 2

I got up at 7 and got Matt up at 7:30. This is disembarkation day for many of the guests.
We went up and had breakfast in La Veranda. Afterwards, we went to the Market and walked about a mile to a pharmacy so that Matt could get some essentials.
We were back on the ship at 10:45 and hung out in the room until noon when we had lunch in La Veranda.
I went out to the pool area to tan while Matt watched a movie. When I got back to the room, I went out on our balcony to do more puzzles.
The safety drill was held at 5:00 and we followed that with dinner in Sette Mari.
We then went to the casino where Matt did well and me....not so much.

November 16 - Raiatea, French Polynesia

We are back in Raiatea. We have done most of the excursions that are available here in the past, so we have none scheduled. This is the last port where we do not have an excursion planned.
Raiatea is where Matt purchased flowers for our cabin back in 2014. There is a small stand here that has some lovely arrangements. When we were here this past Monday, because of the excursion, we did not get to the stores until afternoon.
Today, we went over in the morning and they did not have the selection of flowers that Matt wanted. We did walk around the town into some of the stores we did not go into on Monday.
We came back aboard the ship at 9:45 and Matt went to the gym while I went up to the pool deck to listen to my audio book.
It started to sprinkle a bit and then it began to rain. I went back to the room and found that Matt had gone out to look at the flowers again, but still did not have what he liked.
We had lunch in Compass Rose as they had the BBQ ribs that are served in the Pacific Rim restaurant on the Explorer.
After lunch, while it was still raining, Matt once again went to the market and quickly came back with a beautiful flower arrangement.
As the rain continued all afternoon, I started to go a bit stir crazy and kept walking around the ship just for something to do. Matt stayed in the room and watched TV.
We had a nice dinner in Compass Rose and then came out about even at the casino.
It was still has not stopped raining outside. The ship is scheduled to depart at 11:00.
Early to bed as we have an early excursion (weather permitting) tomorrow.

November 17 - Bora Bora, French Polynesia

We were both up before 6:30, had breakfast in the room and then down to the theater to catch the tender for our 8:00 excursion:


2 Hours

Sail through Bora Bora’s gorgeous lagoon in an intimate small deck boat, taking in the island’s astounding natural beauty and then snorkeling through the crystal-clear waters. This is a perfect way to discover the beauty of Bora Bora, joining the pleasure of boating in a small group.

After departing from the pier in a small, partially covered deck boat, you will cruise into Bora Bora’s reef-ringed lagoon. The beaches are sugar-white, the water absolutely brilliant, and the lush backdrop of Bora Bora, a veritable Shangri-La. Few places on earth rival this setting. Cruise past Motu Tapu, and see from the distance, one of the most photographed islands in the entire South Pacific.

A stop in clear water will allow you to enjoy a fresh dip and even some snorkeling (mask & snorkel provided). Look for stingrays, as these gracious are often seen in the area; you may enjoy a beautiful encounter with them! As you glide through the typically calm waters of the Coral Garden, you will see schools of brightly colored tropical fish that may include yellow Moorish idols, clownfish and Picasso triggerfish. In time, you will make a brief stop on a sand bank to enjoy some refreshments.

Later, above the water’s surface, you will notice that Bora Bora is actually a caldera, and the two peaks at the center of the island—Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu—are the remnants of an extinct volcano. The peaks look particularly dramatic from the sea.

Before returning to the pier, you will cruise into the turquoise waters off Matira Beach, where huge manta rays are often spotted gracefully swimming by.

This was a paid tour and before we took it, we weren't sure what made it special. Once we saw the speed boat and realized our group of 16 would be split into two with eight of us in each boat, we knew it was going to be good.
The sun was out and we started with a quick tour of lagoon. Along the way, we spotted spinner dolphins and several sea turtles, before going to the "Coral Garden" for some beautiful snorkeling. There were no other tours out there, so we had the whole area to ourselves (except for a few people who had kayaked out there. We spent about 20 minutes there before going over to the sand bank, which we could stand up in, but was not an exciting spot. After about 15 minutes, we made our way back to the pier.
We tendered back to the ship and were back aboard at 11:00.
Lunch was in La Veranda followed by some time for me by the pool...before it started to sprinkle...and photo editing time for Matt.
I then went to the casino while Matt watched a movie. I also got in some puzzle time out in my happy place.
The Captain's Reception Party was tonight, but as we did that last segment, we skipped it this time around.
Dinner was in Compass Rose followed by some casino time.

November 18 - Sea Day

We slept in until 8:00 with breakfast in La Veranda and then came back to the room where I did puzzles and Matt organized a bit.
The ocean this morning was fairly calm and a beautiful deep blue.
Bingo was held at 11:00 (instead of 1:00 on the last leg) and Matt won the 3rd game. His first win of the cruise!
Lunch was in La Veranda and then I went out to the pool deck to tan while Matt went to the gym.
Later in the afternoon, I went to the casino and then out on our balcony while Matt watched the first "Lord of the Rings" movie. We will be visiting the outdoor set of the movie in a few weeks.
Tonight was the Block Party, but only 4 couples showed up in the hallway, so it was a quiet get-together.
Dinner was in Compass Rose followed by our nightly visit to the casino.
All in all, a nice sea day.

November 19 - Sea Day

Another nice sea day. Up at 7:30 with breakfast in La Veranda. We then just hung out until Bingo (no win) and lunch in La Veranda.
I did my usual tanning by the pool while Matt went to the gym.
I went to the casino while Matt watched a movie, then I went out on our balcony to do a few puzzles.
As we were getting ready for dinner, our butler came in with our laundry and let me know that they had ruined one of my Disney shirts. The entire pattern was faded badly. They had me fill out a form so I can get reimbursed. I was pleased to find out that Disney still had the shirt for sale on their site, so am having a new one sent home.
We skipped the Seven Seas Society party and went straight to dinner in Prime 7 before casino time (where I came out $2 ahead).
We turn our clocks back one hour tonight, taking us to 3 hours before California time.

November 20 - Pago Pago, American Samoa

With the 8:30 excursion today, we were up early with breakfast served in the room. Then it was down to the theater to wait for our group number to be called for today's tour:


3 Hours

Visit a recreated traditional Samoan village where the ancient ways of island life are still faithfully practiced and watch demonstrations that reveal the villagers' ingenuity.

Leaving the pier you will drive towards the idyllic western side of Tutuila. So many breathtaking views await you, each worthy of a brief stop for photos. There's the monolithic Fatu-ma-Futi or Flowerpot Rock that rises straight out of the ocean as if standing sentinel at the entrance to beautiful Pago Pago Bay. Farther west, you'll pass the Leone Mission Monument and several churches that mark the contribution of Reverend John Williams, who landed in the area in 1832 and began spreading Christianity.

Still, staggeringly beautiful settings and historic attractions aren't the only draws in western Tutuila. You'll also have the opportunity to observe the traditional Samoan way of life at a uniquely laid-back small recreated village. The villagers live together communally and their thatched wooden structures, known as ""fales,"" are open and without walls, symbolic of the villagers' unrestricted culture. Each fale is devoted to a specific purpose, such as sleeping or food preparation.

During your visit, you will observe demonstrations on daily activities that illustrate how the Samoans live their lives. The cooking demonstrations are very enlightening and Samoans are the only islanders that cook their family meals above ground on an ""umu"" of hot river rocks, which are covered with banana fronds to create an oven of sorts. Following the demonstrations you will get to sample the resulting dishes, giving you a true understanding of everyday Samoa village life. Afterwards, you'll re-board your bus and drive back to the pier.

It was a very nice tour except for the heat and humidity. We were asked not to wear shorts for this excursion, so long pants it was.
We were in busses of 26 making a total of over 100 people at each stop. We did this tour backwards from above, stopping at the Samoan "Village" first. They did a nice presentation there. Our tour guide was Shanette Pualani Tilo, Miss American Samoa 2008-2009. The village is where she lives, and her husband is the head chief. We also got a special dance from the princess of the village, Shanette's oldest daughter (8 yrs old).
We were back aboard the ship at noon, having lunch in La Veranda in the air conditioned room.
Following lunch, I spent 2 hours on the pool deck as Matt edited photos.
I then went back to the room while Matt went to the gym.
Dinner was in La Veranda followed by the casino. I came out $100 ahead.

We lived today like there was no tomorrow....because there IS no tomorrow. We move our clocks ahead 25 hours as we cross the International Date Line and move right to Thursday. So we are now one day and 2 hours earlier than California time.

November 21 - International Dateline
Day did not exist

November 22 - Apia, Western Samoa

We slept in until 7:30 and had breakfast in La Veranda before our 9:45 excursion:


3 ½ Hours

Indulge your senses with the pristine natural beauty of Upolu during this scenic, half-day tour of the island's northeast coast.

Depart the pier for a scenic drive along the northeast coast of Upolu. Along the way, you will pass through local villages that still observe a traditional lifestyle. Stop for photos at the Falefa Waterfall and Estuary, a former trading post for locals and whalers in the early 1800s. Fagaloa Bay offers you another opportunity for breathtaking views overlooking the coast.

Stop to visit Gina's Tropical Gardens, which features an abundance of native and tropical plants, flowers and fruits. Included are specimens found in the bird of paradise family, along with ginger, axoria, heliconia, ylang ylang, papaya, guava, star fruit, pineapple, and mango. During your visit, you will be treated with refreshments and seasonal fruits. Enjoy a demonstration of coconut tree climbing, husking, grating and preparing fresh coconut cream.

We got one of the non-air conditioned vans. We drove to the Falls, which were not all that exciting and the water below was kind of mucky. We then made our way to the Tropical Gardens, but the van driver got lost, so we ended up going to a market to view the items and food for sale. The guide then decided we still needed to go to the gardens to fulfill the excursion description. By this time we had been out 3 hours and I was hot and several passengers wanted to go back to the ship (as we were close), so I joined them in getting out. Matt continued on to the gardens while I cooled down in our room.
We had a late lunch in La Veranda, then, per usual, I went up to the pool deck to lay out while Matt did his photo editing.
Dinner was in Compass Rose. Turkey dinner was offered in all dining venues as one of the choices.
We followed that with our nightly visit to the casino and then we went to the Production Show, "Broadway In Concert".

November 23 - Sea Day

Up at 7:30 with breakfast in La Veranda. We checked out the "Black Friday Sale" in the boutique. Not much of a sale going on.
I did some printing while Matt got his haircut.
It was then Bingo time, and although Matt only needed one number on the last game for quite some time, it just never came up,
Lunch was in La Veranda followed by pool tanning time for me (until the showers came) and Matt went to the gym. The skies cleared and I went back out to the pool.
Matt watched a movie in the late afternoon while I went out on our balcony and fell asleep for an hour.
We had dinner in Sette Mari and then went to the casino. I did well, Matt...not so much.
We turn our clocks back another hour tonight, making us 1 day and 3 hours ahead of California time.

November 24 - Suva, Fiji

We were up at 7:30 and had breakfast in La Veranda, then went back to the cabin until our early lunch before our 11:45 excursion:

4 Hours

Indulge your senses with Fiji's exquisite mountains, mountain pools and rainforest during this hiking tour in Forest Park, and a visit to the Raintree Lodge.
Depart the pier for the scenic drive by island bus into the mountains behind Suva, and a visit to Forest Park. En route, a shopping and restroom stop will be made. Upon arrival at Forest Park, you will take a guided hike through the peaceful green Fijian rainforest. Along the way, you will see the lower pool in the peaceful forest surrounded by bush land and an abundance of photogenic bird life. You will also have an opportunity to take a swim in the cool, crystal-clear mountain pools.
Afterward, you will be transferred to the Raintree Lodge. Built on a manmade pool, the lodge offers a lovely natural atmosphere in which to relax with a drink, snack on some seasonal fruits and listen as a singing trio serenades you with their local songs.
Following your visit, you will re-board your bus for the return drive to the pier.

We were informed last week that the Raintree Lodge would be closed and not included in this tour.
We took the bus (non-air conditioned, but nice) directly to the colo-i-suva forest where we were divided into groups of 5-6, each with a guide. We were in the first group (5 of us), so nobody in front of us to block views or slow us down. The walk was a bit muddy with a clay-like soil that stuck to the bottom of our shoes. The walk was very nice, with a lot of steps and seeing the pools along the way, made for nice diversions from looking down to make sure of your footing. I should mention that it was a bit warm and humid, so I was pretty sweat drenched by the end.
The stop at the last pool (with swimming time for those who wanted it) was a bit long. There were a lot of local kids there as this is the start of their 6 week summer break. Our guides, who were "forest rangers", made all of the kids stop swimming and using the swing rope over the pool. I felt bad for them as all they wanted to do is relax.
We then went back to the bus and off to the Royal Suva Yacht Club for an orange type drink. This was followed by a stop at the local mall, which was across the street from the pier, so most on the bus just walked back to the ship.
Matt worked on the photos until dinner time. We decided that since the casino would not open until 10:00 (we left port at 9:00), that we would not get dressed up and just stay in our room and have dinner via room service and then watch a movie.

November 25 - Lautoka, Fiji

Everyone up at 7:00 with a quick breakfast in the room before our 8:45 excursion:


6 ½ Hours

Explore the pristine beauty of Savala Island and its surrounding waters on this fun and option-packed tour.

Welcomed aboard by the friendly singing crew, you'll soon be on your way to experiencing a delightful excursion you'll never forget. As you cruise across the translucent waters you can sit back and enjoy the magnificent scenery, mountain ranges and seaside villas, or simply kick back and relax with a good book.

Your destination today is Savala, an uninhabited 1 1/2 acre island that is surrounded by white sandy beach and home to native birds and their natural habitat which has never been touched. Upon arrival, your crew will transfer you across to the island in a glass bottom boat where you can marvel at what lies beneath the surface of the water without even getting your feet wet. Once on the island, there will be many options for activities (included), such as guided snorkeling tours and glass bottom boat rides where you can view the colorful coral gardens, or ocean kayaking and paddle boards. If you prefer a more relaxed day, stretch out by the beach and soak in the sun and the truly laid-back ambiance of Savala Island. During your time on the island lunch will be provided as well as morning and afternoon tea.

At the conclusion of your visit, you will re-board your motor boat and cruise back to Lautoka and your waiting ship.

This was a very nice excursion. The day went quickly. It was a half hour ride out to the island. We set ourselves up on loungers under an umbrella and once all of the passengers were transferred from the boat to the shore (via a smaller boat), they held a guided snorkel tour out to the reef shelf and back. That took just over a half hour.
We rested for a bit and then it was time for lunch. They had salad, roll, fresh fruit and BBQ chicken.
After lunch, they fed the black tip reef sharks from the shore. Following that, I went and laid in the shade while Matt went out on a small kayak and rowed himself around the island.
It was then time to go back to the boat and our ship. We were back onboard at 3:30.
Matt worked on the photos after we got back, while I worked on puzzles.
We had a 9:00 sail time, so once again, we decided not to dress up and just have dinner in our cabin.
We once again turn our clocks back one hour tonight...so 1 day and 4 hours earlier than California time.

November 26 - Sea Day

Ok...have to admit...we have fallen into a sea day rut.
Wake up, breakfast, get a few things done in the room, Bingo, lunch, tanning for me, gym for Matt, casino for me, movie for Matt, dinner, casino.
Don't get me wrong. We don't mind.
The seas are getting a bit rough and the ship is finally rocking. We are already taking bets on whether we will get to see Norfolk Island in 2 days. Every time we have been through here, we have been unable to visit the island for one reason or another.

November 27 - Sea Day

When I awoke at 6:45, Matt was already awake and reading Facebook. We had breakfast in La Veranda, then came back to the room. The ship was rocking and rolling quite a bit and Matt was not feeling well. We did go down to play Bingo (where we once again lost), then had lunch was in La Veranda.
In the afternoon while I was out tanning and then visiting the casino, Matt stayed in the room and took a nap until dinner, which was in Chartreuse, the French Restaurant.
After dinner, we had a bit of casino time where Matt did well.
The clocks go back another hour tonight, putting us
1 day and 5 hours earlier than California time.
Early bedtime tonight as we are supposed to meet with Australian Immigration officials in the morning before our early excursion.

November 28 - Norfolk Island, Australia/Sea Day

The ship really began pitching at about 3AM...so much so, it woke both of us up.
I got up at 6:15 and got Matt up at 6:30. Just before 7:00, the Captain dropped anchor off Norfolk Island and lowered one of the tenders and brought it right back up.
At 7:10, he came over the speaker system to let us know that he was canceling the visit to the island. The seas are just a bit too rough to do a tender system safely. He then raised anchor and we are now sailing to Auckland. Guess the 3rd time around is not the lucky time. We have yet to visit this island.
We had already ordered breakfast to come to the room, so we had that.
As we were turning around, Matt went up to the upper deck to take some photos of the island.
So....that made today another sea day. We already knew that they had a "plan B", as we talked with John Barron last night before dinner and he told us that he had recorded 2 versions of the day's events for his daily TV show. One if we got to the island, the other if it was cancelled.
We played Bingo, where I won the first game.
Lunch, whose theme was put together last minute, was not that great.
I went out to the pool deck to lay out. The weather, although sunny, is getting cooler. Only a few people actually in the pool today.
While Matt watched movies in the room, I went to the casino and did VERY well.
Dinner this evening was in Compass Rose, followed by our usual evening visit to the casino, where we both did well.
As we are heading back east toward New Zealand, we once again turn our clocks ahead one hour, making it
1 day and 4 hours earlier than California time.

November 29 - Sea Day

The last day of this segment of the cruise.
We were up fairly early with the normal breakfast in La Veranda (where they really need to change things up a bit), then off to Bingo. Matt got close to winning, but no such luck.
Before lunch, we picked up our passports. Not quite sure why we needed to get them as we are in transit and we know that we will have to do a face-to-face meeting with the Australian Immigration on the 9th. Oh well...go with the flow.
Lunch in La Veranda followed by my tanning time by the pool with wonderful conversations.
Matt watched movies while I went to the casino and came out ahead again. I then spent an hour in my happy place on our balcony before getting ready for dinner.
Of course casino time followed.
We once again turn our clocks forward one hour, putting us
1 day and 3 hours earlier than California time.
Tonight is our last night with Cruise Director John Barron. He is very enjoyable to run into while on the ship. He will be replaced by Ray Solaire, not one of our favorites. He is a little overbearing and everything is about him.
We also lose our Captain, Daniel Green, who always remembers us and takes the time to chat. Our new Captain will be Ubaldo Armellino, who was our Captain in 2012 on our Caribbean Cruise.
We traveled a total of 3,599 nautical miles on this leg of the cruise, bringing the total thus far to 6,555 nautical miles.

November 30 - Auckland, New Zealand

I awoke at 6:30 when announcements were being made about not taking any agricultural items off the ship. Got back to sleep for an hour when all the announcements started again.
The "Golden Princess" ship is docked next to us.
We had breakfast in La Veranda, then went off the ship to do some shopping. Matt needed a few things and wanted to get some fresh flowers for the room. He Googled for shops nearby and off we went. Most of the shops were very small with limited choices. He was about to give up and said there was one the opposite way from which we had come, so we went there and he found what he was looking for. In fact, he got 2 arrangements...both very pretty.
The morning started out a bit cool and windy, but once the sun started coming out, it got warm.
We were back on the ship by 11:30, thus beating the newly arriving passengers that were waiting in the terminal to board.
Lunch was at noon in La Veranda, again trying to keep ahead of the crowd. Newly arriving passengers are not allowed into their cabins until around 2:30, so they have to stay in public places such as by the pool, in La Veranda or one of the lounges. Most choose the pool area and La Veranda.
I spent the rest of the afternoon out on our balcony. Although it was overcast, it was nice to be outside doing puzzles. Matt re-watched a movie or two.
5:00 brought the 3rd and last Boat Drill. Same speech over and over. Same walk out to the deck.
Dinner was in Compass Rose.
Really looking forward to tomorrow, as it is the excursion I have been waiting the entire cruise for. Stay tuned.

December 1 - Tautanga, New Zealand

7:30 wake up with a lot of overcast and rocking ship, then it began to sprinkle. We had breakfast in the room and went to the theater at 8:45 in preparation for our 9:00 excursion. After we got down there, Ray came over the speaker system and said that we were docking late. He first blamed the late time on the weather, then later stated that it was because the tugboats that we needed were helping a Holland America ship that was also in port. It was not until 10:00 that our ship was docked and cleared. So we were off on our excursion:


5 Hours

Tour the movie set where much of the blockbuster “Lord of the Rings” trilogy was filmed and visit many of the famed landmarks that appeared in the movies and books.

Departing from the pier, you will drive inland towards Matamata, taking in the bucolic scenery of the emerald-green Waikato region along the way. The land is exceptionally fertile and much of it is devoted to private farms.

In time, you will arrive at Hobbiton, a sheep and cattle farm whose terrain was altered in the late 1990s to accommodate filming for the “Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy. Dozens of hobbit holes were created, bridges and buildings were constructed, and Barberry hedges and trees were planted. It was an enormous undertaking and at the peak of filming, 400 people worked at Hobbiton, a lush setting so unusual that it still looks like a fantasyland.

While touring the movie set, you will visit the thatched-roof mill, double-arched bridge, Party Tree, and Green Dragon Inn, all of which are well-known to fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy novels and the movies based on them. You might also have your photo taken at the entrance of one of the holes where the merry yet shy, Hobbits lived.

Afterwards, you will relax over a cup of tea before driving back to the pier.

It rained all the way there...with strong winds (a one hour drive), and simmered down to showers on our arrival. After a few minutes into the tour, the rain and showers stopped and we were able to put our umbrellas down and enjoy the set. Although there was little explanation of particular set usage by our guide, it was still a very enjoyable tour.
We did get to stop in the store and pick up the item we wanted to mark this trip, which was a small miniature of one of the Hobbit holes (see photo page).
By 1:15, we were back on the bus and it started to rain heavily again.
We were back on the ship at 2:20 and we were able to eat in La Veranda, which they kept open for those who got back on after tours.
Matt then edited photos.
We had dinner in Compass Rose and waited for the ship to leave port, which we did a bit late.
We worked on the jigsaw puzzle in the main breezeway while waiting for the casino to open. I came out ahead, Matt...not so much.

December 2 - Gisborne, New Zealand

We were up at 7:30 with breakfast in La Veranda before getting ready for our 10:30 excursion: 


3 Hours

Take a ride on a vintage steam train through a scenic landscape that includes coastal views and fertile fields. A Maori cultural performance and photo opportunities await at Muriwai before retracing your route back to Gisborne.

The Golden Age of rail travel is celebrated on one of the last steam trains in New Zealand—the sole surviving WA Class locomotive. After a short walk from the pier, you’ll be welcomed on board the train for the forty minute ride to Muriwai.

Take your seat in one of several lovingly restored heritage carriages and set off on a picturesque ride along the Poverty Bay Coastline, past the Captain Cook Statue, and fertile areas where local produce is grown. You will also have views across the bay to the ship and Young Nick’s Head.

Built in 1897 in the Dunedin railway workshops, WA 165 was brought to Gisborne in 1911. It faithfully worked the north line until 1942, when it was retired to a children’s playground. In 1986, this beautiful piece of equipment was rediscovered and fully restored by local railway enthusiasts. Today you’ll settle into upholstered seats and toast to your good fortune with a complimentary glass of sparkling wine or fruit juice as you sit back and enjoy the passing scenery which is further enhanced by informative commentary during your ride.

Your destination is Muriwai, a small settlement 15 miles south of Gisborne. Here, you’ll alight on a rural grass platform and enjoy several photo opportunities as well as a charming Maori cultural performance.

Maori is very much a living culture in this area, and while you wait for the train to be turned around for your return trip, you’ll be entertained by a lively performance, featuring the songs and dances of the local Maori people. This performance is locally produced and often includes school children who bring a special sweetness to the ceremony.

On your return journey, enjoy the company of your fellow travelers as you travel back to Gisborne. Arriving in the city, the train will stop at the Grey Street Railway Station where there is a visitor information center. Guests may disembark and make their own way into the downtown area to explore on their own, or remain on the train and ride back to the pier.

This was an enjoyable and relaxing excursion. The train was chartered just for us. There were about 150 passengers aboard. One of the interesting things is that the train crosses the runway of the Gisborne Airport. We had to stop while an airplane landed, then we got to cross the runway, then the plane was allowed to turn around and go back to the terminal.
We were back to the pier at 2:00 and back on the ship at 2:20.
We went up to La Veranda, which was kept open late for all of us arriving from tours.
Although we were supposed to lift anchor and depart at 3:00, we did not get off until 4:30.
Tonight was the Captains Welcome Reception, but we skipped that and went straight to dinner.
Of course, casino time followed where Matt did fine, and I did not.

December 3 - Wellington, New Zealand

It was a "sleep in" morning. I was up at 7:45, Matt at 8:00 with breakfast in La Veranda. I then went out on our balcony to work on puzzles until our 12:15 excursion:


3 ½ Hours

Get a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the making of "The Lord of the Rings" film trilogy by visiting director Peter Jackson's special-effects studio Weta Cave. Join a LOTR expert guide and visit the suburb of Mirimar, now also known as ‘Wellywood’. This is the heart of the New Zealand film industry with major projects going on at the moment such as ‘The Hobbit’ & “The Adventures of Tintin’

Your tour commences with a picturesque drive along lovely Oriental Bay toward Mount Victoria, which offers a spectacular 360 view of Wellington and its well-protected harbor. The dense forest undergrowth covering Mount Victoria served as one of the locations for "The Lord of the Rings" movie trilogy, which was directed by Wellingtonian Peter Jackson. Take a stroll through the picturesque forest of the ‘Outer Shire’ where Frodo and the Hobbits began their journey. There were many scenes filmed here including the ‘Race to the Ferry’ and the famous ‘Get off the Road’ scene. Learn how the films were made while we visit scenes and locations right in the heart of Wellington City.

Continuing on to Miramar you’ll have the exclusive opportunity to visit “Weta Studios - The Weta Workshop”. This experience offers a peek into the magic of Weta and the many films they have worked on. Visitors are given an insight into the movies Weta is best known for, as well as learning about the processes and the creative and innovative thinking that goes on within the walls of this custom built facility. This movie based visitor experience provides a unique behind-the-scenes glimpse into the workings of Weta Workshop.

The story of the creative process is told and guided by a member of the talented Weta Workshop crew from the workshop floor using the props, models and weapons they have helped made for the movies. They may even reveal some of the secrets behind the movie magic!

Exclusive video clips are displayed throughout the tour, as well as descriptive boards describing the process used for different disciplines, such as Armour & Costumes, Weapons & Props, Creatures & Make-up FX, Miniatures & Models, Conceptual Art and Merchandise. The Exhibition space will also reveal the history of Weta Workshop and what they have been busy with over the past 20 years. You will also enjoy a private screening of a 25-minute behind-the-scenes film, which tells the story and history of the film industry in Wellington and features interviews with Weta Workshop co-founders Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, Tania Rodger and Jamie Selkirk.

Afterwards, return to the cruise ship pier via Evans Bay & Oriental bay for stunning views of Wellington City and Harbour. A drop-off in the city is available upon request.

We did this tour in reverse, starting that the WETA Workshop. They gave a nice tour of how props, prosthetics, Armor, puppetry/animatronics are made and an overview of their company, which worked on many films including: all of the "Lord of the Ring" and "Hobbit" films, "I, Robot", "Avatar", "Iron Man", "King Kong", "Tin Tin" and MANY more.
Our guide of the van part of the tour (22 people per van), took us to Mt. Victoria and showed us where the scenes from the "Lord of the Rings"/"Hobbit" movies were filmed and showed us stills of the exact movie still.
We were back aboard the ship at 4:20, plenty of time to get ready for the Block Party, which I attended.
We had dinner in Compass Rose before the nightly casino visit.

December 4 - Lyttelton/Christchurch, New Zealand

We were up at 7:00, just as the ship was docking in Lyttelton. We were told that we are only the 2nd ship this year to use the Lyttelton port. We had breakfast in our room before our 8:45 excursion:


4 Hours

Explore the highlights of Christchurch during this scenic and relaxing half-day tour of the city and countryside.

Depart the pier in Lyttelton for the drive around Lyttelton Harbor, an extinct volcano, then on to idyllic Governors Bay, traveling through the countryside, with its picturesque bays, panoramic views of rolling hills and sheep grazing in the green fields. New Zealand is known for its sheep industry, as your first destination will show you.

You'll arrive at Manderley Farm, one of many farms in this area of Canterbury, greeted by a friendly hello and morning tea. After your refreshment, experienced farm hands will then lead you to the sheep-shearing shed where you'll get to see a demonstration. Another key member of the sheepherding team is the dog. You'll marvel at the considerable talents of these four-legged herders as they perform a lively display of their abilities for you. See top New Zealand sheep dogs gather a mob of sheep from nearly hills herding them down for their master for your photo opportunity. These champion sheep dogs will take whistle commands from half a mile distance with speed and agility. Ross will talk about his life experiences farming the hills over the last 30 years.

Next, you will proceed for a drive along the shores of Lake Ellsmere, and through the small township of Tai Tapu en route to Christchurch. While driving through the city, you will see some of the areas affected by the 2011 earthquake. You will be able to see how Christchurch is preserving some of its iconic heritage buildings and hear about the exciting vision to rebuild and restore the inner city. You will then return to Lyttelton via the Lyttelton Tunnel.

This was a fun and educational tour. Ross and his wife hosted the day at their Manderley Farm. First was the sheep shearing demonstration, then Ross had one of his dogs bring all of the sheep WAY up on a hill back down to the main farm area. We then had refreshments at the ranch home.
As the description states, going through Christchurch, you can really see how much damage the earthquake of 2011 really did. The town is still tearing down and rebuilding. Many of the hotels are gone, churches still in ruins and many empty lots.
We were back on the ship just after 1:00 and had lunch on the back balcony of La Veranda.
The forecast called for late morning rain, but it stayed away and cleared up and became sunny and warm. I went out to the pool deck to tan while Matt worked on photos and watched a movie in the room.
We had dinner in Compass Rose and even though we left port at 6:00 and the casino which usually opens one hour after leaving, did not open until 9:00, so we did not go.

December 5 - Dunedin, New Zealand (Doo-NEE-den)

An early morning start (6:30) with breakfast in the room. As we headed to the theater for our excursion, we noticed that the Christmas Elves were busy decorating overnight. Garland and trees are up.
As we headed out of the ship, the wind was gusting, the rain was at a medium rate and it was much cooler than yesterday.

Today's excursion:


4 Hours

Leaving the ship, you'll begin your tour with a picturesque drive past the charming towns of Sawyer's Bay, Roseneath and St. Leonard's, which all rest along the shores of beautiful Otago Harbor. Your drive then continues along the craggy coastline to Natures Wonders, located just beyond Taiaroa Head.

Arriving at the Center's Reception area, you'll board, an 8-wheel drive vehicle (Argo), built specifically to take you places that are normally inaccessible, or a mini coach, to start your tour of the farm. You will swap vehicles half way through the tour.

The Otago Peninsula headland is arguably the most precious wildlife habitat in New Zealand and the farm owned by the Reid family is right on the forefront of this headland. Here, amidst truly spectacular scenery, the world's rarest penguins, the yellow-eyed Hoiho, the little blue penguins, the New Zealand fur seals, and the Spotted Shags all live in harmony.

Stop along your route at the mythical Maui's Footprint location which offers breathtaking panoramic views over the Otago Peninsula. Descending from a height of 620 feet above sea level, you will stop at a breeding colony of Cormorants, also Spotted Shag, found nestled on a rugged cliff face that rises directly above the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean.

Continuing on, you'll find a breeding colony of New Zealand Fur seals. It's a definite treat to watch them in their natural habitat, basking on the rocks and swimming in the pools. A beachfront ride will bring you to Penguin Beach. From this location you'll be able to view little blue penguins in their nests, and if you are lucky, perhaps spot some very rare and shy yellow-eyed penguins as well. Your route then ascends from the beach back to the highest point on the farm. At 659 feet above sea level, this spot affords an absolutely amazing 360-degree view of this awesome peninsula and its remarkable natural setting.

Arriving once more in Dunedin, your coach will take you on a brief tour of some of the city's highlights before returning to the pier.

This was a fun excursion. The rain was letting up as we arrived, but the wind was still quite strong. There were about 26 passengers on this excursion, so they took most on the Argo first, leaving a few of us to take a different route to the same places via a mini bus. There were plenty of the New Zealand Fur Seals on the beach and rocks at our first stop. At "Penguin Beach", those of us on the bus took the Argos while the rest took the bus back. Although we did not see any of the penguins on the beach, the Center had made viewing boxes in a tunnel where we could see the mothers with their chicks. No pictures allowed of them. There is a photo of the penguins (taken from the internet) on the photos page.
We were back aboard the ship at 1:10 and had lunch in La Veranda, then back to the room to edit photos, etc.
As we are staying in the New Zealand waters, the casino did not open, so we decided to stay in our cabin to have dinner and watch a movie.
The Captain gave us an update at 6:00, just as we were leaving Dunedin, stating that we were going to encounter winds of 35-40 MPH tonight and tomorrow with sea swells of 12 feet. I immediately took one of my Bonine pills. Although this is not really rough seas, it is enough to make things roll or slide off of counters and shelves.

December 6 - Sea Day

Got to sleep in until 7:45. Woke up Matt at 8:00.
Today is the first of 3 sea days. It was a very rough sea last night and this morning...and my stomach knew it. Bonine to the rescue.
It is "fjord" day. We entered Dusky Sound just after 10:00 with great scenery and a few waterfalls. We were out of the sound around 11:30, just in time for Bingo. We did not win.
Up to La Veranda for "Soup Day". As it is 57 degrees outside, so the soup was nice to warm up with. We noticed that there were crew stationed at the hand sanitizer machines, so we think that we are getting close to a "code red".
Just as we were finishing lunch, we entered Doubtful Sound. Although pretty, not as pretty as Dusky. We were through this fjord at 2:00, an hour after entering.
We were back out into the choppy ocean until 5:00, when we entered Milford Sound, the most scenic of the 3 fjords. This fjord also took just over an hour to get through.
The Cruise Director came over the speaker system to tell us that we are now in "code red level 1". No hand shaking with crew, no games where equipment is shared, etc. We were right in our thinking at lunch.
Next it was time for dinner...tonight in Prime 7. During dinner, the mist and water from us hitting the larger waves made it up to the windows of the 5th deck. We are rocking quite a bit. We are now crossing the Tasman Sea to get to Burnie, on the island of Tasmania. We have been told (before the cruise started) that the Tasman Sea can be very rough to cross.
After dinner, we went to the casino.
The clocks go back one hour, so we are now 1 day and 4 hours ahead of California time.

December 7 - Sea Day

The seas were much calmer this morning. We were up just before 8:00 with Breakfast in La Veranda, then had to go turn in our passports to the Front Desk. Not sure why they collected them as we will need them when we have our face-to-face meeting with Australian customs officers on Sunday.
We went to Bingo at 11:00. We were both close on most games, but no winning.
Lunch was in La Veranda, which was very crowded as it is still windy outside with a high of 61 degrees.
The Captain told us that he veered North last night to avoid as much rough seas as he could, but that we will be going back into them after midnight tonight and will probably stay in them all day tomorrow.
Matt watched movies most of the afternoon as they have added some new films to the system.
In the evening, I attended the Seven Seas Society Event and learned that of the just over 600 passengers on this leg of the cruise, 489 are repeat customers. 282 Silver, 127 Gold, 31 Platinum, 26 Titanium and 1 Commodore.
The Captain mentioned that we are going as fast as we can right now as we will have to slow way down when we hit the 16 foot waves late tonight.
I then joined Matt for dinner in Compass Rose and then we were off to the casino, where we came out even.
I made sure that everything that can roll off of shelves is put away.

December 8 - Sea Day

Matt was up before me this morning. We had...and continue to have...rough seas. The Captain was right.
We had breakfast in La Veranda and then came back to the room. Matt was not feeling well, so we just relaxed.
Bingo was at 11:00 and I won the last game ($133)!!
Matt was still not feeling well, so he skipped lunch. I went up to La Veranda and there were only 4 tables with passengers. I guess everyone else is not feeling all that great. Our butler mentioned that the 3 ladies in the cabin next to us are all sick.
We filled out our Australian Customs forms. We have to meet face-to-face with Immigration officers tomorrow morning before our tour.
While Matt was resting in the room, I went to the casino.
The seas calmed down quite a bit in the late afternoon.
Dinner was in Compass Rose. Aldwin, the casino manager had dinner with us. Nice to catch up with him.
Since we are entering Australian waters, there was no time to visit the casino as they closed at 9:00. Instead we went back to the room and watched a movie.
Tonight, the clocks go back one final time, so that puts us one day and 5 hours ahead of California time.

December 9 - Burnie, Tazmania

We were up at 7:00 with breakfast in the room and then got ready to go through Immigration. This was sort of a mess. Although they started at 8:20, there were so many people who did not wait for their excursion to be called (to keep the line down), there was a HUGE line and it took almost an hour to get through. This put us 45 minutes late and did not get our excursion started until 9:30. At least they did not cut the excursion short.


4 Hours

Visit a wildlife park for an up-close look at a remarkable variety of animals, including Tasmanian devils and kangaroos, and then enjoy a driving tour of Burnie.

After departing from the pier, you will enjoy a leisurely drive inland toward beautiful Mount Dial Nature Recreation Area. The landscape in this part of Tasmania is gorgeous, dotted with the occasional village, and looks much like it has for centuries.

It’s the ideal setting for Wing’s Wildlife Park, which holds the largest collection of Tasmanian wildlife in Australia. While meandering along the trails during free time, you might see famed Tasmanian devils or lesser-known Tasmanian bettongs, which are tiny marsupials that hop like kangaroos.

The wildlife park is also home to boobook owls, crab-eating macaques, quolls and long-nosed potoroos. There are even American bison and Japanese quail. The variety of creatures is stunning, and the more you learn about their behaviors the more interesting they seem.

Later, you will drive back to Burnie for a downtown tour before returning to the pier. The origins of the city date to 1828, when it was built around an excellent natural harbor on Emu Bay. Eucalyptus forests once blanketed the land, and the timber industry fueled the economy for the next 100 years.

Today, Burnie is known more for its creative arts and culinary endeavors. Art galleries are abundant and conditions are ideal for dairy land and grape growing. Consequently, the locally produced cheeses and wines are esteemed throughout Tasmania.

This was a enjoyable excursion. When we left, it was a bit cloudy and it did sprinkle on the way there, once we got there, the sun came out. The Wildlife Park is family owned and operated and is a cross between a zoo (for birds and monkeys) and open air pens for land animals. We were able to buy seeds to feed and pet the kangaroos. Most of the animals are Tasmanian native. There are a few exceptions.
We were back aboard the ship at 1:40 and had lunch on the back balcony of La Veranda.
While Matt was working on photos, I went out to the pool deck to get some sun.
Back to the room for awhile until dinner in the Compass Rose.
The casino was open this evening, so we just had to stop in to visit. While there, Aldwin, the casino manager who has been busy installing a new slot machine for several weeks (and I have been giving him a bad time about how long it has taken him), let me be the very first person to play the machine. I came out even on the machine. We did not come out even on the evening. The casino will be closed the next two nights due to being in Melbourne overnight tomorrow and leaving late on Tuesday.

December 10 - Melbourne, Australia - Day 1

I was up at 7:45, Matt at 8:00. We had breakfast in La Veranda. The ship docked at 9:00 and was cleared at 10:00, just in time for our 10:15 excursion:


7 Hours

Explore the unique wildlife of Australia during this scenic and informative journey to visit the Serandip Open Range Sanctuary and a nearby National Park.

Depart the pier for the drive to the Serandip Open Range Sanctuary, located on the vast Western Plains near Melbourne. Upon arrival, you will join an expert nature guide for an informative and memorable introduction to Australia's unique wildlife. You will see large groups of free-range, Eastern gray kangaroos in a natural bush setting, and learn interesting facts about other Australian animals and birds.

Observe a protected population of wallabies and get close to some strange Australian birds in their natural habitat before enjoying a sumptuous BBQ lunch served in an open-air setting at the Sanctuary. After lunch you will meet some of the people of the local Aboriginal tribe, the Wathaurong who will share elements of their fascinating culture and perform some music on their didgeridoo. You will have time to ask questions because your Aboriginal friends will continue on with you this afternoon.

Next, you will proceed to a nearby National Park to view koalas in the wild. Accompanied by a nature guide, you will see and learn about these extraordinary fluffy-eared creatures in their natural environment; often seated in the fork of a tree in the beautiful Australian bush. Towards the end of the walk you will visit the Big Rock Aboriginal Cultural Site with the Aboriginal Guides. This is considered to be one of the most significant living sites in the region and has great views out over the surrounding plains.

Following your visit, you will re-board your coach for the return drive to the pier.

This was a "see the wildlife in their habitat" tour. We first walked through an open field of wheat-like plants to a tree line where the kangaroos rest. We saw several, although others ran when they saw us. Our tour guide said that he is used to tours of 3-10, not 27 like ours. He spent a lot of time trying to herd the passengers as much as trying to find the wildlife. I can see where if you were in a small group, you could be more quiet and take more time to let the kangaroos get used to you being there.
The BBQ was ok, and the presentation by the Aborigine so-so.
We were then off to see the koala. The rangers in the park had spent the morning (before we got there) trying to find them. They spotted 2 which we were able to get photos of.
Then back to the bus and back on the ship at 5:30.
As there are really no activities on the ship in the evening, we just had dinner in the room and watched a movie.
We spend the night here....and all day tomorrow.

December 11 - Melbourne, Australia - Day 2

I was up at 7:45, Matt at 8:00. Today's excursion:


4 ½ Hours

Travel through the richness of the Sherbrook Forest and visit a the charming township of Olinda.

Depart your ship and travel to Sherbrooke Forest, home to some of the world's tallest hardwood species. Keep watch for such unique Australian birdlife as rosellas, kookaburras, bellbirds and lyrebirds. Two of the forest's most impressive and colorful bird species are the crimson rosella and king parrot. Experience the bold nature of these playful and inquisitive birds as they may land right on your arm or head.

Visit Olinda or another of the areas charming townships. These small villages are renowned for excellent craft shops. Enjoy free time to browse the shops for the work of local artists that may include jewelery, glassware, pottery, leather goods, woodcarvings and even candy shops to remind you of yesteryear.

Before returning to your ship, enjoy a brief city orientation and travel through suburban Melbourne.

This turned out to be a 5 hour tour because 6 of the passengers decided to hijack the bus and make the guide drop them off in the shopping district of Melbourne. This is something Regent should not let happen. It is not fair to the rest of us who wanted to get back to the ship in time for lunch in La Veranda. We made it back to the ship at 2:30 and they did let Matt and I in...only because we went directly there without stopping in the room. They closed the doors behind us (the restaurant technically closes at 2:00), so we did get to have lunch. (We are not fans of the Pool Grill with limited choices of hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken wings.
The tour itself was a bit of a bore. More time on the bus than anywhere. The Forest was nice and we did get to see a lot of birds including the kookaburra. We only spent a half hour there before going to Olinda, which is a 2 block city with shops and restaurants. We were there for an hour and Matt did pick up an item to bring home.
After we ate lunch, I went up to the pool deck to tan for an hour while Matt edited the photos and watched a movie.
As we are docked here until midnight, there, once again, is no casino tonight, so we ate dinner in our room.
We watched a movie together, then called it a night.

December 12 - Geelong, Australia

It was an early morning with us getting up at 6:45. We are anchored, so today is a tender day. After looking at the descriptions of today's and Friday's tours, I have decided to opt out. Matt went ashore for the 8:00 excursion:


4 Hours

After an enlightening driving tour of Geelong, visit two of its main attractions: Australia's only comprehensive museum of wool and an old gaol built by convicts during the gold rush.

Boarding your coach at the pier, you will begin with a panoramic drive through Geelong where you will receive a wonderful overview of the downtown area. The second largest city in the state of Victoria, Geelong was named in 1837 after an Aboriginal word that means ""cliffs,"" a distinct feature of the surrounding area. During your panoramic drive, you'll pass many of the city's most important landmarks, including the lively waterfront and serene Botanic Gardens, before arriving at the National Wool Museum for a visit.

Inside, you'll discover the importance of wool in Australia since the industry was first introduced in the 1840s. It's a fascinating story that involves sheep farming, wool processing and textile production, especially with regard to Geelong's role. After meandering through the museum galleries, you'll watch a sheep-shearing demonstration by a local farmer who will be happy to share his knowledge about the wool industry, which has dominated the country's economy.

Continuing on, you will make your way to the Old Geelong Gaol. Built during the mid-1840s, the former Victorian-era maximum-security prison closed in 1991. However, the interior remains much as it was. During your visit, you'll see the mural a prisoner painted in Cell 47 called the "Window to Freedom," the former gallows, several solitary confinement cells, and the exercise yard. It's a sobering look into prison life, and afterwards you'll be glad to walk outside again. Following your visit, you will re-board your coach and return to the pier.

As Matt left, we found that the internet was not working. It did come back up at 9:00 and I spent most of the morning updating my iPhone apps. As most passengers were off on tours, the internet speed was a bit faster...but not as fast as you would like. I had 33 updates.
When Matt got back, he did not look thrilled. Here is how he described his day on his Facebook page:

The ship is anchored within the bay and we came ashore via the ship's tender boats. I went ashore alone today, Bill decided to remain on the ship. Once ashore, our guide took us to visit the National Wool Museum. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz. Following our visit to the museum, we visited the Old Geelong Goal ( jail ). Zzzzzzzzzzzzz. Definitely not as exciting as a day full of animal adventures/interactions.

After we had lunch in La Veranda (at 1:00), I went out to the pool deck while Matt edited his photos. The rest of the afternoon was spent watching TV and then we had dinner in our room before watching another movie.

December 13 - Sea Day

Our final sea day before anchoring in Eden tomorrow and ending the cruise on Saturday in Sydney.
We were up at 7:45 with breakfast in La Veranda and then back to the room until Bingo time, where Matt won the last game.
This was followed by lunch in La Veranda. The Captain gave his daily update at noon and told us that we would be getting into rougher water and that we should be prepared to miss going to Eden tomorrow. He thinks that it might not be safe to put the tenders in the water. He will let us know in the morning after he gets to the anchor spot.
Today is overcast, so no sun time for me.
Matt spent the afternoon packing while I went to the casino for a bit. We then watched a movie.
Dinner was in Compass Rose followed by our visit to the casino.
This afternoon, we had a bit of a problem with our card key working in our door, but the stewardess got it working. Tonight, we could not get in the room again, so Matt called security. Before security got to our cabin, the Captain came by. His cabin (and the Bridge) is just ahead of our room. He said that if we were still in the hall locked out in 5 minutes, he would get involved. A few minutes later, security came. She called an engineer who came and they changed out the whole lock system on our door and reprogrammed everything.
Hopefully it will keep working fine.

December 14 - Sea Day

The Captain woke everyone up at 7:10 to let us know that the seas are too rough to anchor in Eden, so today was another sea day (with packing).
Matt was up at 8:00 and we had breakfast in La Veranda.
I spent the morning doing my initial packing before we went to Bingo (did not win) and lunch in La Veranda.
We just hung out in our cabin in the afternoon and watched a movie.
Dinner in Compass Rose followed by a final visit and goodbye in the casino.
Back to the room to finish packing and getting the bags out the door.

n this final leg of the cruise, we traveled 3,142 nautical miles.

December 15 - Going Home

We were up at 6:45 with the ship just docking in Sydney. We had breakfast in the cabin before departing at 8:00.
We had a private van ride to the airport and went through the Qantas Business Class line and TSA fairly quickly.
The Qantas lounge was packed and there was a wait list at the American Express lounge, so we stayed in the Qantas Lounge.
Of course, a family with kids came and sat right across from us. Singing and bouncing for everyone. We moved and a Japanese woman sat down right beside me and was talking non-stop on her phone. She left after a half hour and then 2 young German guys sat down and talked back and forth for an hour. The longest silence they had was 10 seconds. They left and a family moved in and the young son (who sat next to me) kept sneezing and not covering his mouth. I think either I was being tested or was on Candid Camera.
Finally it was time to go down to the gate. Another security check and I was randomly chosen and had my carry on tested. Into the holding room and there we got in line only to be told 5 minutes later that there were lightning strikes in the area and that we were on hold and could not board.
After an hour, we were finally let on the plane and then told that the re-fueling of the plane was now underway (can not fuel in a lightning storm).
Another hour and we were off the ground.
Arrived in San Francisco an hour and a half late and , of course, our bags were last off.
Eric was there quickly and we were off for home.
Got home at 4:30.

Next cruise: 2020