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FredZiffle

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  1. No, definitely Featherdale, because we were planning on taking the train there from Sydney. Now, it's possible we got some bad intel, but we did hear they had closed due to the smoke.
  2. It may not be near them, but apparently the smoke was enough to endanger the animals, and it was closed the second week of January.
  3. We were on that same cruise, but fortunately took an Uber to the airport. It did take about 15 minutes for the driver to get there (primarily because they had apparently moved the pickup point), but we were still at the airport by 9:00 AM.
  4. If your cruise is stopping at any other Australian ports prior to Sydney, you likely will go through immigration at that port. As I recall, the process in Sydney was very fast (under 15 minutes). You don't mention which wildlife park you're planning on visiting, but you might want to double-check that it's open. Featherdale was supposedly closed a couple of weeks ago due to the wildfires.
  5. Puerto Madryn. You can do an excursion or just drive down to Punta Tombo. It's a long drive, but almost all is on nice roads. At Gypsy Cove, you can't get down to the beach, so binoculars would be nice to look at the penguins there, but there weren't that many. Most were wandering around closer to the trails or in nests nearby. I think we came within a couple of feet of several.
  6. I can't answer your question because the prospect of a bumpy ride was enough for us to pass on Volunteer Point and do Gypsy Cove instead. We had also driven to Punta Tombo and seen penguins at an earlier port, so it didn't bother us not to go out to Volunteer Point.
  7. We ate at the Crown Grill a couple of weeks ago, and there was nothing "special" about this specialty restaurant. One waiter and no asst. waiter for 6 or 7 tables, so he was running constantly and just slapping dishes down as fast he could. Never had time to check back or refill drinks. The kitchen was also likely understaffed, as it took 45 minutes from appetizer to entrée. I had to send my medium steak back when it came almost rare, which then took another 20 minutes. Altogether, we spent over 2 hours there. Sadly, the food itself was also nothing beyond what you might get at a cheap chain restaurant. Very disappointing.
  8. I actually did a count on our 14 day cruise (3 formal nts.) earlier this month. 5% tuxes, around 30% suits, 35% sports coats with or without a tie, and 30% button down shirts and slacks. A few outliers in polo shirts, but they did look a bit out of place.
  9. Interesting. We just stayed there last week (on the 13th) after booking with points through the IHG website back in July. Never would have known it was changing hands. Guess we got in just under the wire since, according to the article, the changeover was to occur on the 14th. You are absolutely paying for location, not the view, when you book here. Even though we had an upper level floor overlooking the harbor, you can't see much with a building blocking much of the view, not to mention cruise ships blocking virtually everything during the day.
  10. The biggest issue I see is whether any of the car rental agencies allow after hours drop-off. Even if they do, there are only one or maybe two within walking distance of the port, so you'd either be limited in your options or have to call for a taxi when you return. Rotorua and Wai o Tapu took us about 6 hours combined, but we simply walked the free park in Rotorua rather than attend a Maori experience, and we only did the main trail in Wai-o-Tapu. I would think that you'd be really pushing it to do what you plan and get back to the port by All Aboard time, which I'd assume is 2115. Have you considered Hobitton instead, especially if you're going to Rotorua later out of Auckland?
  11. We did the Snout Walk in Picton. Lots of great views of the harbor.. The town itself is also a great place to walk around with small cafes and shops. In Wellington, the one place not to miss is Te Papa. I'm not big on museums (and truthfully, the idea of a natural history museum on NZ did not exactly excite me), but this is absolutely the best museum I've ever visited. You could spend all day there if you wanted. We only had a couple of hours and barely scratched the surface. If you take the shuttle in from the port, skip the first stop near Parliament and get off at the second stop which is a block from Te Papa. You'll likely beat most of the tours and avoid the cable car lines that occur early in the morning (since everyone gets off at the first stop). After Te Papa, you can walk over to the cable car and ride it up. Walk back down from the top through the botanical gardens, and when you get down, you'll only be a couple of blocks from the first shuttle stop.
  12. We used https://www.abcrentals.co.nz/ last week. They were the cheapest I found for our date, and picked us up and returned us to the port.
  13. Just returned this week from a 14 day NZ-AUS cruise. The only port where we even smelled a whiff of smoke was Melbourne, and it was just that, a whiff.
  14. Taxis aren't necessarily hard to come by. They're just expensive. Depending on where you're coming from, public transportation may be a viable option to the airport. It's almost certainly a good option for getting around the city to the various sights unless you just enjoy riding a HOHO bus. We used a combo of trains, metro, and buses from the airport, all around the city, and to the port.
  15. We rented a car in Ushuaia and drove to Tierra del Fuego. It's less than 15 minutes from town. You can park and walk the trails and visit that silly end-of-the-world post office (seemed like just a tourist trap to me, but everyone goes there). You absolutely do not need to pay for a tour to visit the park, and it would likely just be a waste of money since they'll drop you off at the trail heads and pick you up afterwards. You'll get a map of the park as you drive in, and it's very easy to navigate.
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