Bit of a Blog : Solstice : Auckland – Fremantle – Sydney : February 14th 2016

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#1
Up North and Down South, UK
17,031 Posts
Joined Jul 2008
This is the first of these blogs to be posted to the Celebrity board. Have been loyal to Royal (until now) and have blogged each cruise live. For an idea of how this will look (hopefully) here’s my blog from last year on Rhapsody (Singapore – Dubai – Istanbul) and another here from Legend (Baltics).

I booked this cruise back in May 2014, 636 days between then and flying out. A UK TA was offering a package with flights, transfers, pre-cruise and post-cruise hotels, some excursions, and OBC. A cruise of a lifetime to destinations I have never visited. And first time south of the Equator. Travelling so far it made sense to book the B2B and then subsequently I had a light bulb moment and booked myself a side detour to Uluru at the end….. I’m never going to afford to come this way again so might as well eh? With support from the boards here at Cruise Critic I’ve taken loads of advice, booked excursions with others on the roll calls, some on my own and a couple with Celebrity itself….. I’ve made some terrific friends here already and that really helps a solo cruiser travel all the way across the world knowing there’s people over there who she can meet up with for a drink and a chat.

So here I am sat at Heathrow airport starting this off.

Here’s the itinerary for the first leg :



And it looks like this :

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Linda

September 2nd 2017 : 'Rock the Boat' Cruise : CMV Magellan : Roll Call here : Blog here

Bit of a blog : Crown Princess : Buenos Aires - Valparaiso : February 1st 2017 here

Bit of a Blog : Solstice : Auckland – Fremantle – Sydney : February 14th 2016 here

Blogs in profile from Rhapsody (includes India), Legend (Baltics), Oasis (Mediterranean), Freedom (Caribbean) and others.
#2
Up North and Down South, UK
17,031 Posts
Joined Jul 2008
I’ll post the itinerary of any excursion I take along with pics and links to the websites of local tour operators if I want to recommend them to you

Feel free to ask questions about the ship or ports of call and I will do my best to answer. I’m more than happy to be set little tasks on board. Any must do’s ashore will be taken seriously and if time allows will try and accomplish them…..

Bay of Islands I’ve nothing specific planned other than visiting the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and it looks like Melbourne I’ll be jumping on the HoHo and stopping off at the Victoria Market, I’d hoped to meet an old school friend but it seems not to be happening. I’ve excursions organised by my TA for post disembarking the next cruise as well as meeting up with a wonderful CC friend and her husband who I met last year on a cruise….. so what to during on the tendered port day in Sydney is still a mystery….. I’d considered doing the Bridge Climb but then saw how much that costs…. I’ve made notes from the Ports of Call board.

Tauranga and Dunedin I’m on roll call excursions. Akaroa I’m going kayaking at Pohatu to see the penguins.

Wellington is a very special day and is actually what motivated me to make this trip in the first place. For 22 years I’ve been keeping New Zealand a ‘must visit’ country and if I was ever going to make it now was the time. Will tell you all about it nearer the time. I do tend to have the occasional ‘emotional’ day on a cruise. This will be that day.

I’m Diamond Plus with Royal and so have registered with Celebrity so am Elite already I’m booked in an Inside on Deck 3 in a room recommended by another CC friend from another cruise. I would have loved a complimentary upgrade but am very used to travelling inside, spending most of my days out and about anyway. I’ve Select dining; I’m really fond of dining when I want, where I want, alone or with others if I’m feeling sociable. I’m very excited to be trying menus different to Royal. I’m also Gluten Intolerant so will see how this is approached on Solstice having had many and varying experiences on the different RCL ships. They know I’m coming.

This cruise has had a very active roll call. We’ve a slot pull, an unofficial meet and a really large group lunch arranged (around 120 on each cruise). Quite a few of us are on the B2B….. will be interesting to find out just how many of us there are staying on in total. Sadly, one of our contributing members passed away just a very few weeks ago. I’ll be sending the link of this blog to his widow. I’d met them both last year when they came over to London where I was living at the time. I’ve organised a fund-raising walk on a sea day in his memory amongst the roll call and will donate the proceeds to his favourite charity.

I’ll probably book the premium non-alcohol package on boarding…… the price certainly fluctuated over the months on the UK site. Will keep my fingers crossed for boarding day offers. I do love a decent cup of decaf coffee, drink loads of water on board and am looking forward to the smoothies, frozen cocktails and sodas! From what I’ve read on the board the Freshly Squeezed OJ doesn’t exist on Celebrity….. that’s really disappointing as I loved this on Royal. The Elite Happy Hour will see me good for wine at dinner…. I understand this is a voucher system and not loaded on to the Seapass Card.
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Linda

September 2nd 2017 : 'Rock the Boat' Cruise : CMV Magellan : Roll Call here : Blog here

Bit of a blog : Crown Princess : Buenos Aires - Valparaiso : February 1st 2017 here

Bit of a Blog : Solstice : Auckland – Fremantle – Sydney : February 14th 2016 here

Blogs in profile from Rhapsody (includes India), Legend (Baltics), Oasis (Mediterranean), Freedom (Caribbean) and others.
#3
Up North and Down South, UK
17,031 Posts
Joined Jul 2008
I’m flying in with BA who are my preferred airline. I’ve back and hip issues so upgraded to Business Class with a lie-flat seat. 25 hours + and 4 flights….. had to be done. Flew Newcastle to Heathrow today the 10th (1) and have spent the day in London. Then Heathrow to Sydney tonight. There’s a stop in Singapore and apparently we disembark the plane there (2 and 3) then Sydney to Auckland (4) arriving on the 12th. Am staying at the Sky City Grand Hotel. I’ve a half day tour arranged up the West Coast to Waitekere on the 13th organised by my TA……. with embarkation on the 14th.

I learnt how to roll my clothes….. never too old to learn new tricks. Had planned on one checked case, one cabin case and a rucksack but having packed my main suitcase 2/3 full and weighed it it came in at 20kgs with an allowance of 23kgs. I’d purchased the Newcastle – Heathrow leg subsequent to the original booking; Business Class is 3 checked bags….. to have added this flight to the original booking would have cost a small fortune; I didn’t know when I booked that I would be up north at this time. Was a cheap enough return ticket to LHR but only one checked case included. So my plans changed and I added a medium sized case to check in to the first flight (and its return). Cheaper to book this pre arrival at the airport. The extra case cost almost as much as the flight itself

Last year, on Rhapsody, I travelled with a similar amount of luggage for the 4 weeks on board…. This is 5 weeks on board with nearly another 2 weeks spread over before and after. Never been away this long before.
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Linda

September 2nd 2017 : 'Rock the Boat' Cruise : CMV Magellan : Roll Call here : Blog here

Bit of a blog : Crown Princess : Buenos Aires - Valparaiso : February 1st 2017 here

Bit of a Blog : Solstice : Auckland – Fremantle – Sydney : February 14th 2016 here

Blogs in profile from Rhapsody (includes India), Legend (Baltics), Oasis (Mediterranean), Freedom (Caribbean) and others.
#4
Up North and Down South, UK
17,031 Posts
Joined Jul 2008
The day before I was due to fly out I received an email from my TA with an attached letter from Celebrity with regards to the 2nd leg of this B2B:

We are writing to you today to provide some important information for this mutual guests forthcoming cruise on board Celebrity Solstice departing 3rd March 2016.

Due to the latest BVK regulations from the Indonesian Government, it has been advised that all UK visitors arriving into Bali on a cruise ship, through the port of Benoa, will be required to purchase a VOA (Visit on Arrival Visa), irrespective of whether guests are disembarking the ship or not.
The cost is $35.00 per person and will be automatically applied to the guests Sea Pass Account on board. Should guests already have a passport with the appropriate Visa or, due to nationality, not require one, then this fee will be waived.

Further details can be found on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Website through the following link.

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-ad...y-requirements


Just love the bit where I’d get charged whether I go ashore or not. None of the other Brits on the roll call had been made aware of this.
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Linda

September 2nd 2017 : 'Rock the Boat' Cruise : CMV Magellan : Roll Call here : Blog here

Bit of a blog : Crown Princess : Buenos Aires - Valparaiso : February 1st 2017 here

Bit of a Blog : Solstice : Auckland – Fremantle – Sydney : February 14th 2016 here

Blogs in profile from Rhapsody (includes India), Legend (Baltics), Oasis (Mediterranean), Freedom (Caribbean) and others.
#5
Chicago, via NJ, via Miami, via London, via Northern Ireland
5,470 Posts
Joined Nov 2009
Linda, thanks for taking the time to write such a comprehensive report on this fantastic itinerary!

I will be tuning in daily to see it all unfold.

Bon voyage!

Norris
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#6
Oxford UK
835 Posts
Joined Dec 2012
Why hello Linda, great to see your blog up & running . This is going to be an amazing cruise for all of us who are on the Solstice. We are now at the airport lounge waiting to board.....hello Auckland, via Hong Kong. ...long flights but worth it. See you in Auckland. Trish & Peter x
#9
northern territory
129 Posts
Joined Nov 2013
Hello

safe travels down under!

heaps to do in sydney.

circular quay is a good spot there you can walk to the opera house in one direction and further to the gardens. in the opposite direction you can walk over the bridge and catch the train back over.

if you get an all day travel ticket (check with Valerie if they still have it) gives you all day on bus train and ferry.

our family tradition is a day on the ferries. using the above ticket. out to manly for an ice cream maybe up the parramatta river then ending over at darling harbour with a walk to chinatown for dinner. a very very long day but good fun!!!

or you could catch a bus or possibly a train to Bondi and see the lovely life guards :-). there is also a nice walk over to the next beach.

heaps to do!

in New Zealand on the auckland day you are going to where i was born. I was born in the Waitakere hospital and lived in Glendene. Mum lived her childhood in the Waitakere ranges. have not been to that side of town for years so your photos will be interesting.

you will have a great trip. hope the plane trips are not to tedious.
#10
Orlando
339 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
What a wonderful itinerary! I would love to see those places someday. You are giving me ideas ... Thanks so much for taking the time to tell us about it!


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
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Norwegian Sun, Western Caribbean, 10-16-2010
Celebrity Solstice, Eastern Caribbean, 4-3-2011
Celebrity Eclipse, Eastern Caribbean, 12-10-2011
Celebrity Constellation, Western Caribbean (except it never got there), 12-14-2013
Celebrity Summit, Bermuda, 5-4-2014
Celebrity Equinox, Ultimate Caribbean, 4-4-2016
#11
Minnesota
1,437 Posts
Joined Aug 2003
Originally posted by NorbertsNiece
The day before I was due to fly out I received an email from my TA with an attached letter from Celebrity with regards to the 2nd leg of this B2B:

We are writing to you today to provide some important information for this mutual guests forthcoming cruise on board Celebrity Solstice departing 3rd March 2016.

Due to the latest BVK regulations from the Indonesian Government, it has been advised that all UK visitors arriving into Bali on a cruise ship, through the port of Benoa, will be required to purchase a VOA (Visit on Arrival Visa), irrespective of whether guests are disembarking the ship or not.
The cost is $35.00 per person and will be automatically applied to the guests Sea Pass Account on board. Should guests already have a passport with the appropriate Visa or, due to nationality, not require one, then this fee will be waived.

Further details can be found on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Website through the following link.

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-ad...y-requirements


Just love the bit where I’d get charged whether I go ashore or not. None of the other Brits on the roll call had been made aware of this.
Looking forward to reading your blog....someday we will be able to take a trip like this!
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Linda


NCL Starward 9/92 ~ NCL Sky 3/00 ~ RCI Monarch 3/02 ~ NCL Star 11/02 ~ RCI Serenade 11/03 ~ Golden Princess 11/05 ~ RCI Mariner 11/08 ~
RCI Monarch 5/09 ~ RCI Adventure 11/12 ~ RCI Radiance 05/14 ~ RCI Enchantment 10/15 ~ RCI Serenade 8/16 ~
#13
Wellington. New Zealand
2,705 Posts
Joined Dec 2013
We did the B2B Auckland /Fremantle / Sydney on the Solstice last year. Pleased to report that the Solstice safely sailed out of Wellington last night heading north to pick you up.
Couple of points that you should be aware of. Going through Dusky and Doubtful Sounds get your self a good position high up to see both sides. We took up residence in the Sky lounge. Milford Sound if the day is fine and warm the Oceanview or Sunset bars aft are the best place to view the sound. If it has been raining a few days previous then the waterfalls will be in full flow.
Sydney departure at 10.00pm. This is one of the best sailaways anywhere you can imagine particularly if you have to back out. Get yourself a great position in the Oceanview bar on the stern and settle in for a fabulous view.
Going ashore in Bali - Make use of your Elite status and get ashore early if going ashore. Tendering is not a Solstice forte and is generally a shambles. Expect long waits coming back on board late in the afternoon. Everyone wants to come back at the same time.
Darwin to Yorkeys Knob - You will pick up a Pilot in Darwin who has a wealth of information about the Great Barrier Reef and ecology in the area. He will probably give some lectures in theatre and others over main broadcast which is not played inside cabins. Worth catching
Yorkeys Knob - Tender port for Cairns - This place is the pits and to get into Cairns you have to pay the ships buses as there is no other transport.
Just a few things. Any questions before you sail just ask
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#15
Highland Village, Texas
4,285 Posts
Joined Nov 2006
Look forward to "traveling" with you!
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Deedee

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"Got a Caribbean soul I can barely control
and some Texas hidden here in my heart"
from Migration by Jimmy Buffett


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CRUISE ADVENTURE #38


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#18
Central Scotland
478 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
I am travelling to Australia with my family at the end of February for 3 weeks, then on to Bali for 1 week. Our TA has assured us that there is no longer any visa to pay in Bali unless you are planning to stay more than 30 days.
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#19
Paris Ontario Canada
31 Posts
Joined Feb 2003
Hi
Great Job on writing the blog. We are leaving Toronto tomorrow via Vancouver to Auckland. We are also staying at the Sky City Hotel. Never travelled across the Equator before and we are looking forward to seeing the world from down under.

Safe Travels Everyone

Hazel & Bob
#20
128 Posts
Joined Feb 2015
Hi Linda,


We are from Middlesbrough just round the corner from you in England. We are driving down to Heathrow in the early hours of tomorrow ready for our flight to Auckland via Hong Kong. It's our first balcony cabin in six cruises and we are really excited. We would love to have done the B2B but have a disabled son at home so 3 weeks is all we can manage. Look forward to meeting you,. Ann and Neil.