New Zealand is the perfect country to explore from a cruise ship, with most of its best-known destinations close to ports. Here’s an excellent way to see the country in depth later this year – a 32-night double-cruise-and-stay with ms Noordam and Celebrity Solstice. There are no flights on this holiday – you sail from Sydney aboard ms Noordam and return on Celebrity Solstice.
Named ‘The No-Fly Kiwi Close-up’, this double-cruise bonanza is the brainchild of Worldwide Cruise Centres (worldwidecruisecentres.com.au). It includes visits to Melbourne and Hobart, four nights in Auckland’s perfectly located VR Queen Street Hotel & Suites, New Zealand North Island coach touring, visits to Hobbiton and the thermal wonderland of Waitomo and Rotorua and two nights in a four-star hotel in Rotorua.
‘The No-Fly Kiwi Close-up’ costs from A$6399 per person twin share and includes shipboard bonuses that can add even more value. The holiday is valid for sale until 30 June 2015 or until sold out, whichever occurs first, and it gets under way when ms Noordam sails from Sydney on 25 October 2015.
All main meals (excluding speciality restaurants) are included on both cruises. An offer valid on ms Noordam applies to new bookings in Outside or above cabin category and involves a free shore excursion credit of US$400. There’s a Free Dine Around package (US$70 value) and reduced deposits. If you book a Suite, you’ll also receive double your shore excursion credit (up to US$800 per stateroom), 100 minutes of internet (US$55 value) and an anniversary sale beverage card (US$100 value).
On the Celebrity Solstice cruise, new bookings in an Outside or above cabin category, if made after 1 June 2015, receive a Free Classic Beverage Package for two.
‘The No-Fly Kiwi Close-up’ starts when ms Noordam heads from Sydney to Melbourne, in port for a day, then to Hobart for another day, then across the Tasman to Milford Sound, with a day to explore one of New Zealand’s most scenically dramatic regions.
ms Noordam is adorned with fine art, photography and valuable pieces of antique furniture. The Vista Dining Room features impeccable service and an extensive wine list. Maybe sample the Greenhouse Spa and Salon and catch entertainment in the Vista Show Lounge.
From Milford Sound, ms Noordam heads north past spectacular Fjordland National Park to Dunedin, one of the world’s most southerly cities. Then to Christchurch (Akaroa), Picton, New Zealand’s quirky and arty capital of Wellington, art deco Napier, Tauranga and on to Auckland.
Your two-day hotel stay in Auckland includes a one-day Auckland city hop-on/hop-off bus pass with fully commentated tour of Auckland’s main attractions. There’s a one-day tour from Auckland to Rotorua via Hobbiton and the heritage town of Cambridge, known for its English-style atmosphere. Tour Hobbiton movie set, the largest green set in the world, complete with 44 hobbit holes, the mill and double arch bridge, the party tree, the Green Dragon Inn and Bilbo’s house, Bag End. A bottle of Hobitton Beer (or other drink) is included at the Green Dragon Inn.
Transfer to inner-city Rotorua now for two nights in a four-star hotel, a Tamaki Maori Village Concert and Dinner show with the Tamaki Cultural Group, complete with traditional hangi meal cooked under the earth on hot rocks.
On the way back to Auckland, visit the famous Waitomo Glow-Worm Caves, with cave tour and boat ride through the grotto illuminated by thousands of tiny lights emitted by the glow-worms, naturally suspended from the cave ceiling.
Arriving back in Auckland, enjoy another two nights at the VR Queen Street Hotel & Suites Auckland before boarding Celebrity Solstice for a 12-night cruise from Auckland to Sydney.
Celebrity Solstice is a knockout. Believe it or not, the top deck boasts a freshly manicured lawn. The Lawn Club offers casual outdoor activities in a Country Club atmosphere. Sip a cocktail in the Sky Observation Lounge, watch a demonstration of glass blowing or try the AquaSpa by Elemis and fitness centre, where you can pamper yourself with spa treatments or push yourself in a workout.
The Celebrity Solstice itinerary is great too. You’ll sail north to the Bay of Islands, a delightful, balmy and historic region of aquamarine sea and little settlements. Then south, with a chance to re-visit the cities you experienced on the ms Noordam cruise, plus visits to moody and magnificent Dusky and Doubtful Sounds.
Return across the Tasman now, heading to Hobart for a day, then north for a memorable sight – the passage through Sydney Heads at dawn. Flanked by familiar icons like the Sydney Opera House, you’ll disembark after a great 33-day holiday.
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