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.
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.
November 2 - Hilo, Hawaii
It was a quiet night with swells of 2-4 feet.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
SAIL BORA BORA BY CATAMARAN
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
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:
FAAROA RIVER & MOTU BY CANOE
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.
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.
DOLPHIN WATCHING EXPEDITION
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.
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:
DISCOVER TAHITI'S WEST COAST
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.
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.
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
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:
REEF-RINGED LAGOON TOUR
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.
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
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.
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:
VILLAGE WAY OF LIFE
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 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.
21 - International Dateline
November 22 - Apia, Western Samoa
We slept in until 7:30 and had breakfast in La Veranda before our 9:45 excursion:
NOV. 22 - COASTAL VILLAGES, FALEFA FALLS & TROPICAL GARDENS
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
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
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:
Nov. 24 - SUVA AND RAINFOREST WALK
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.
November 25 - Lautoka, Fiji
Everyone up at 7:00 with a quick breakfast in the room before our 8:45 excursion:
SAVALA ISLAND SNORKELING
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.
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.
November 26 - Sea Day
Ok...have to admit...we have fallen into
a sea day rut.
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.
November 28 - Norfolk Island, Australia/Sea Day
The ship really began pitching at about
3AM...so much so, it woke both of us up.
November 29 - Sea Day
The last day of this segment of the
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.
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:
HOBBITON MOVIE SET
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.
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.
December 2 - Gisborne, New Zealand
We were up at 7:30 with breakfast in La Veranda before getting ready for our 10:30 excursion:
DEC. 2 - STEAM TRAIN TO MURIWAI
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.
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:
IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF LORD OF THE RINGS
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.
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:
CHRISTCHURCH TOWN & COUNTRY
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.
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.
NATURE'S WONDERS WILDLIFE SAFARI
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.
December 6 - Sea Day
Got to sleep in until 7:45. Woke up Matt
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.
December 8 - Sea Day
Matt was up before me this morning. We
had...and continue to have...rough seas. The Captain was right.
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.
DEVILS AND ROOS
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
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:
KANGAROOS AND KOALAS
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.
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.
December 11 - Melbourne, Australia - Day 2
I was up at 7:45, Matt at 8:00. Today's excursion:
COUNTRYSIDE VICTORIA - BIRDS AND CRAFTS
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.
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.
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:
HISTORY & HERITAGE OF GEELONG
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
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.
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).
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.