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


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

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

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

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

This is me doing my single digit dance.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ovation of the Seas, 11 Nights departing from Sydney Australia to New Zealand For many years I avoided Alaska cruises on the premise that bikinis are better than parkas.  Then I finally did an Al

Cruise Summary This cruise was a pretty fantastic experience overall.  New Zealand is pretty amazing and every port was very welcoming.   Sydney was a great city to start from.   A couple of

As the sun was setting we sailed past the White Island Volcano.  The tragedy that occurred on December 9, 2019 resonates with me because I was originally booked on that excursion for this day. Ou

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Now this is a live blog that I am looking forward too!

We are on roughly the same cruise in October - similar ports - with the addition of Auckland and an extra day cruising between Dundin and Wellington - also the ports for us are in reverse order - so the Sounds are first not last.

I am a Sydney local and going on a Voyager 3 night 'trip to nowhere' (also called a booze cruise) departing on the 31st Jan and returning on the 3rd Feb - just in time to visit a pub in the Rocks area (right next to the Cruise terminal) to watch the SuperBowl on Monday morning - great minds think alike!

Enjoy the cruise!

 

 

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I have done that itinerary on Radiance. You will love it.

i can recommend the Early Settlers museum in Dunedin for a look at the history of the region. If you have time Speights Brewery is also worth a visit.

Enjoy your time down under. The weather has been great for the last two weeks in NZ. Around 28 degrees celsius most days .

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Wow, what a trip! I'm impressed that Ovation goes to so many ports and sounds. I thought a port-intensive trip like that pretty much had to be done on a Radiance class ship like @F1guynz did, so I'm going to be following this with extreme interest. And, yeah, jealousy. 😉 

Have a safe flight and a fantastic trip!

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Excursions

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

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

Bay of Islands - Lunch cruise

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


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Tauranga - Deluxe Rotorua

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

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

Napier - Hawkes Bay Panorama

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Wellington Panorama

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Dunedin - Taieri Gorge Train

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

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For any non-resident looking at cruising out of Sydney there are some documentation requirements to consider.  An eTA or Electronic Travel Authorization is required.  Delta wouldn't check me in for the flight without proof of an Australian eTA so I'm glad I had a printed copy with me.  I also have a separate eTA for New Zealand.

I don't normally cruise with the eDocs booklet or things like hotel confirmation printed out but traveling internationally I've bought printed copies of everything in case immigration asks for them.

Here is a copy an email recently received from Royal:

 

Royal Caribbean
 
ABOUT YOUR UPCOMING TRAVELS
 

Dear Guest,

 

We can’t wait to welcome you onboard for our February 2nd Ovation of the Seas sailing. Before you board, we’d like to remind you to have your travel documentation ready. We want to kick off your vacation right and ensure your boarding is as smooth as possible, so below we’ve shared some packing and check-in tips to help you get ready.

 

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TRAVEL DOCUMENTS

 

  • Since we’ll be visiting New Zealand, you’ll need either a visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) and you may need to pay an International Visitor Levy. To check your requirements, please click here.
  • And, make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your sailing as some countries we visit will deny you if it expires sooner.
  • Traveling with a minor who is not your child? In addition to their travel documents, you'll need to bring a letter of permission. Click here to learn more.

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PACKING TIPS

 

  • Don’t forget to pack your camera, a comfortable pair of shoes, and a thirst for adventure! 
  • There are some items like, travel irons, steamers, and power strips, that must remain on land to ensure we maintain a safe environment. So, click here to check out the entire list of prohibited items so that whatever you bring isn’t taken by security! 
  • An adapter is a must! Onboard, we have US and European outlets.
  • If you need a power cord to operate any medical equipment, your Stateroom Attendant can provide you with one for the sailing.
  • Keep your passport book handy until you’ve completed your check-in at the terminal. Then, feel free to secure it in one of your bags.

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CHECK-IN TIPS

 

  • If you haven't already done so, please check-in online at www.royalcaribbean.com/onlinecheckin and print the SetSail Pass for everyone in your party.
  • You can do this up to 72 hours prior to your sailing. Online check-in is the best way to expedite your embarkation.
  • Then, on boarding day, arrive to the pier at your selected time for a breezy check-in!

Securing the right travel documentation is very important. We want to ensure you enjoy your vacation and that nothing gets in the way! Governmental rules require that guests who do not have the proper documentation be denied boarding and we really don’t want that. We want your time with us to be perfect!

 

Thank you for your cooperation. We look forward to seeing you soon!

 

Sincerely,

 

Royal Caribbean International

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Day -4 (or is it -2?)

I booked my flights on Delta using Skymiles.  Then as we got closer and with the thought of 14 hours in one airplane seat on my mind I upgraded to Premium Select.  This gets you more legroom, more space between seats, a larger TV and an upgraded meal service.

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The menu:

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Somewhere around the equator the pilot couldn't line up with the equatorial gate so we had to run along near the equator until he found it.

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We crossed a few time zones along the way.

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With 90 minutes left it was time for our breakfast so last map photo, I promise.

While boarding I spotted some Royal luggage tags on some carry on bags.  The couple across the isle where boarding HAL on Saturday and the lady next to me was taking a sampler cruise on Voyager next. 

Coming off the plane... smack.  There's that summer heat and humidity that Australia if famous for. 

Walking through the duty shops towards immigration I spotted a passport kiosk just after the shops on the right that was empty so I did the passport scan thing and got my ticket.  That got me through to luggage where 10 minutes later our luggage started flowing.  

I queued up to leave and handed my ticket and passenger record I filled out in flight and that was it.  My passport already had the eTA so it was all very easy.  

This morning I would take the train to downtown.  The train was packed with morning commuters but I managed with my suitcase and backpack.  No opportunity to take pictures when you are a sardine in a sardine can.

Coming off the train at the Circular Quay station and low and behold... Voyager of the Seas!

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I walked towards my hotel in the direction of the ship spotting a very good doggie.

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