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dleighb

Finally Starting to Get Real!

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For the last 20-some-odd years, I have saved airline miles and joked they were to be used for a business class upgrade to Australia. Well, I finally have a enough to qualify (if available) and turns our our 25th Wedding Anniversary is in December of 2019, so looks like maybe I wasn't joking after all. After reading numerous threads and looking at itineraries (and expected itineraries--thanks for the Princess dates), I think that we are looking at the Celebrity Solstice on Dec 2 with a crazy added self-planned RT to Cairns in hopes of getting one day on the GBR and one day in the Wetlands. (I know, it's crazy and not enough time, but I am doing everything I think I can as I don't know when, if ever, I will get a chance to get back.) We will have our official anniversary dinner at a French restaurant in Sydney on the 17th, the night before we fly home.

 

So, in the next year-and-a-half, tell me everything I need to know! ;p I haven't even started looking at port options and shore excursion planning, but I am sure that is coming. This will be our first non-U.S. departure cruise, and I am terribly excited. I know that people say you can't really see the AU/NZ via a cruise and that you shouldn't try to do both at one time, but I prefer this to packing up every morning and hitting the road throughout the day. I have accepted that I won't be able to see it all and will miss far more than I would like to.

 

My first questions, of which there will probably be many more are:

 

Should we fly out on Friday evening and arrive Sunday morning giving us a day in Auckland to recover? Or should we risk it and arrive Auckland the morning we leave? This impacts exactly how much vacation time we have to request which is why I am mulling it about now.

 

Am I completely crazy to port in Sydney on the 14th, fly to Cairns, and return to Sydney on the 17th? I looked at flying straight from Cairns to home, but it doesn't look like I have a lot of options there.

 

If this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, is there anything on this route that we absolutely should not miss? I'll want to start budgeting for it now if it is expensive!

 

I haven't booked yet, so tell me now if I'm making a mistake!

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I would recommend arriving in Auckland the day before just in case there were to be any delays, especially as it will be winter in the northern hemisphere.

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Arrive early, definitely don't risk it, one delay could put your whole trip at risk.

 

Assuming everything runs smoothly, I think your Cairns plan is very doable. You will have had some sea days before porting in Sydney, so time to rest up and ready to be on the go again.

 

How exciting - happy planning!!

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Rally comes down to how much me you have available.

 

But In any event no way I’d fly in the morning of the cruise.

 

1. To much can go wrong

 

But more importantly

 

2. Think of the Jet Lag.

 

Yo say RT, to GBR, you don’t mean road trip do you, it a loooooong way.

 

Also which wet lands are you referring to.

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Arriving a day early is sort of what I am thinking. I hate adding the extra day, but I would be a nervous wreck I think if I were arriving the day of the cruise. We will likely connect through LAX from DFW, so there *shouldn't* be any weather delays, but weather can always be unpredictable.

 

And, I looked at driving and a train, and the winner is a 3 hour flight to Cairns! I always knew Australia was big, but I am learning a bit more in depth about the geography for sure. I saw that Virgin Australia flys SYD CNS. I liked Virgin America (before it merged with Alaskan Airlines), so that is looking like a decent option. Qatas looks more expensive, and I am unfamiliar with some of the other airlines.

 

So, it looks like I need to research a hotel in Auckland, a hotel in Cairns, and a hotel in Sydney. Or for Auckland should I go with whatever the cruise ship recommends? I know they sometimes will offer a hotel option on either end?

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Arriving a day early is sort of what I am thinking. I hate adding the extra day, but I would be a nervous wreck I think if I were arriving the day of the cruise. We will likely connect through LAX from DFW, so there *shouldn't* be any weather delays, but weather can always be unpredictable.

 

And, I looked at driving and a train, and the winner is a 3 hour flight to Cairns! I always knew Australia was big, but I am learning a bit more in depth about the geography for sure. I saw that Virgin Australia flys SYD CNS. I liked Virgin America (before it merged with Alaskan Airlines), so that is looking like a decent option. Qatas looks more expensive, and I am unfamiliar with some of the other airlines.

 

So, it looks like I need to research a hotel in Auckland, a hotel in Cairns, and a hotel in Sydney. Or for Auckland should I go with whatever the cruise ship recommends? I know they sometimes will offer a hotel option on either end?

 

 

Ahhh OK I was worried you were thinking of a drive, remember Australia is about the same size as the USA 48 states.

 

There are a few threads here about Hitels in Sydney, a lot depends on your budget and what u want to do while here.

 

In Cairns I’ve always liked Rydges.

 

There’s one in Auckland too, so probably avoid choice but ever stayed there.

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Both Virgin & Qantas are decent airlines with baggage included (check luggage weight limits though - they will be different to your international flight. They can also be quite strict with carry-on luggage, I think most are down to 7kgs for carry-on now).

 

Budget options are Jetstar (owned by Qantas) and Tigerair (owned by Singapore Airlines). Both of these lines you need to pay extra for check in luggage and food.

 

People have varying opinions of the two budget airlines - I've never flown Tiger due to a history of cancelled flights and reports of them just leaving people stranded, though some say the same about Jetstar yet I've flown Jetstar plenty and never had a single issue.

 

Another thing with the budget airlines is a very strict check-in time, if you're one minute late for check-in, you're out of luck. But that said, if you know and follow the rules, it's no problem.

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Arriving a day early is sort of what I am thinking. I hate adding the extra day, but I would be a nervous wreck I think if I were arriving the day of the cruise. We will likely connect through LAX from DFW, so there *shouldn't* be any weather delays, but weather can always be unpredictable.

 

It's not just weather, there could be a mechanical issue with your plane. It's a looooong way to NZ, and only a certain number of flights go per day. If something is wrong with your plane, they might not be able to accommodate you on the next flight out (if there even is another one that day) and they might not be able to get you out until the next day. It's just way too risky.

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Posted (edited)
And, I looked at driving and a train, and the winner is a 3 hour flight to Cairns! I always knew Australia was big, but I am learning a bit more in depth about the geography for sure.

 

I'll probably sound like a naysayer, but I think you are packing too much in to your trip.

 

By all means arrive a day early in Auckland. If you aren't too jet lagged the town is worth a look at. Take a ferry ride to one of the harbour islands.

 

The Solstice cruise looks good. I did one on the Diamond going the opposite direction last February.

 

But flying from Sydney to Cairns and back for a two day visit seems a bit much. Then having your anniversary dinner on the day you get back from Cairns and the night before you leave to go home would be way too hectic for me.

 

Unless the GBR is a bucket list thing and you are pretty sure you will never get here again, I would stay in Sydney for a few days after the cruise and plan the anniversary around that. There is plenty to see in Sydney.

 

Alternatively, and this would depend on you getting an extra week of leave, you could do a B2B on the Solstice for its cruise to the South Pacific islands where there is all the coral you could want and have your anniversary dinner at a genuine French restaurant in Noumea.

Edited by SinbadThePorter

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For the last 20-some-odd years, I have saved airline miles and joked they were to be used for a business class upgrade to Australia. Well, I finally have a enough to qualify (if available) and turns our our 25th Wedding Anniversary is in December of 2019, so looks like maybe I wasn't joking after all. After reading numerous threads and looking at itineraries (and expected itineraries--thanks for the Princess dates), I think that we are looking at the Celebrity Solstice on Dec 2 with a crazy added self-planned RT to Cairns in hopes of getting one day on the GBR and one day in the Wetlands. (I know, it's crazy and not enough time, but I am doing everything I think I can as I don't know when, if ever, I will get a chance to get back.) We will have our official anniversary dinner at a French restaurant in Sydney on the 17th, the night before we fly home.

 

So, in the next year-and-a-half, tell me everything I need to know! ;p I haven't even started looking at port options and shore excursion planning, but I am sure that is coming. This will be our first non-U.S. departure cruise, and I am terribly excited. I know that people say you can't really see the AU/NZ via a cruise and that you shouldn't try to do both at one time, but I prefer this to packing up every morning and hitting the road throughout the day. I have accepted that I won't be able to see it all and will miss far more than I would like to.

 

My first questions, of which there will probably be many more are:

 

Should we fly out on Friday evening and arrive Sunday morning giving us a day in Auckland to recover? Or should we risk it and arrive Auckland the morning we leave? This impacts exactly how much vacation time we have to request which is why I am mulling it about now.

 

Am I completely crazy to port in Sydney on the 14th, fly to Cairns, and return to Sydney on the 17th? I looked at flying straight from Cairns to home, but it doesn't look like I have a lot of options there.

 

If this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, is there anything on this route that we absolutely should not miss? I'll want to start budgeting for it now if it is expensive!

 

I haven't booked yet, so tell me now if I'm making a mistake!

 

Which French Restaurant are you going eat in for your anniversary dinner?

 

Have you thought about going to somewhere further south than Cairns to get access to the GBR? Hamilton Island is a bit closer to Sydney and right in the middle of the Whitsundays and the Reef.

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Am I completely crazy to port in Sydney on the 14th, fly to Cairns, and return to Sydney on the 17th? I looked at flying straight from Cairns to home, but it doesn't look like I have a lot of options there.

 

While not direct, you do have options to go from Cairns via Brisbane -> LAX -> DFW. These flights are quicker than going via Sydney. That can save a bit of time from your itinerary - though as it stands it appears you don't spend any time seeing things in Sydney

 

I agree with yourself and the poster above that your itinerary will have you rushing, which isn't necessarily the best way to enjoy yourself. If all destinations are must-sees, the draw is understandable, but it can be better to have some slower time as well, realising you can't see everything. To draw an equivalent it looks like you arrive in NY for the first time one day, fly off that same day to Orlando, see Disneyworld the next day, the following day go to and see Miami in a day, then fly back to NY the next day, have dinner in a restaurant and fly off - is that really getting a decent feel of any, and enjoying the trip? You spend a lot of each day in airports/travelling.

 

 

 

With only >3 days, If you can cut the backtrack time to Sydney that will help maximise your time. Can you stay in Sydney til the evening of the 15th which gives you almost two days there? Then you'd have the 16th for Barrier Reef and 17th for Kuranda? and fly home on the 18th from Cairns as per original plan. That gives you extra time in Sydney as you cut the travel time, though miss the restaurant in Syd on 17th - can you have it earlier, or Cairns instead?

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Posted (edited)

I am also in the it is too rushed camp:o. I think you will regret making the effort to go all the way to far north QLD only to spend two full days there especially if it such a bucket list destination as you seem to be implying. Also you should be aware you will be heading to Cairns at the beginning of the wet season. While it is usually milder and the rains tend to be at night, it is still an unpredictable period and such a tight itinerary doesn't leave room for flexibility if the weather really goes nuts:confused:

 

You say want to cruise because it is convenient but it seems to conflict with your desire to explore far north QLD which makes me think perhaps you need to examine what are the destinations and experiences you really want from this trip, that way you could prioritise what is really important especially if it is a once in a life time trip. You might not be able to see everything but you don't want to regret missing the things your really wanted to see;)

Edited by ilikeanswers

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We have done some pretty crazy schedules on our anniversary, so if it is possible, I'm willing to try it. In 2016, we were on a train in Alaska for for over eight hours in the snow, arriving late, with colds, but still eating our French dinner at 9pm, and then hitting the morning early for an Artic flight, and I would do it all again!

 

That being said, I'm not sold on Cairns as the destination and will look at the possibility of Brisbane. Maybe spend the disembarkation day in Sydney (I know, not much time, but we aren't really big city people), then a later flight to Brisbane until we fly out on the 18th? There seem to be French restaurants in Brisbane, so I should be good.

 

I would really just like to say that we snorkeled in the GBR, I don't think I care where it happens.

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We have done some pretty crazy schedules on our anniversary, so if it is possible, I'm willing to try it. In 2016, we were on a train in Alaska for for over eight hours in the snow, arriving late, with colds, but still eating our French dinner at 9pm, and then hitting the morning early for an Artic flight, and I would do it all again!

 

That being said, I'm not sold on Cairns as the destination and will look at the possibility of Brisbane. Maybe spend the disembarkation day in Sydney (I know, not much time, but we aren't really big city people), then a later flight to Brisbane until we fly out on the 18th? There seem to be French restaurants in Brisbane, so I should be good.

 

I would really just like to say that we snorkeled in the GBR, I don't think I care where it happens.

Brisbane is too far south for the GBR.

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Posted (edited)
That being said, I'm not sold on Cairns as the destination and will look at the possibility of Brisbane. Maybe spend the disembarkation day in Sydney (I know, not much time, but we aren't really big city people), then a later flight to Brisbane until we fly out on the 18th? There seem to be French restaurants in Brisbane, so I should be good.

 

I would really just like to say that we snorkeled in the GBR, I don't think I care where it happens.

 

I live in Brisbane. It's a wonderful place to live, but a terrible place to visit. I think you would be disappointed by Brisbane, not least because we are about 300 miles from the closest part of the reef.

 

If you have to get to the GBR, Cairns is by far the easiest entry point.

 

The best French restaurants are in Sydney and Melbourne, mostly Melbourne.

 

What you are wanting to do is cruise NZ with a GBR side trip. A comparable US vacation would be an Alaskan cruise followed up with a Hawaii side trip. That's a daunting prospect given your time frame.

Edited by SinbadThePorter

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Out of curiosity what is the reason you need to have a French Restaurant?

 

My husband and I started dating while studying French in Brussels. During that time, we made a lot of trips to France. For our first anniversary, we decided to eat at a French restaurant. Then we decided to do it again on our second anniversary. On our third anniversary, we had to cancel our plans due to a bad winter storm, so we cooked a French meal. By then, it had become a thing. Now, no matter where we go or what we are doing, we eat a French meal on our anniversary. For our 10th anniversary, I found an inn in Vermont that rotated their meals, I asked if the chef could rotate around to his French meal on the night of our anniversary. He did. That was probably the biggest challenge. The next was the one in Fairbanks, Alaska which we barely made due to our train being late. I'm still a little amazed I found that one. I also found a really good restaurant in a strip mall in Honolulu one year. We give extra kudos when we find them with French servers who will speak French with us. One year, maybe we'll actually go to France for our anniversary, but somehow part of the challenge for me now is actually finding a restaurant. If I go to France, I lose my challenge!

 

 

As for the crazy travel side trip to the GBR, we live in Texas. We are used to crazy travel, and long trips. It can't be worse than our recent eight day trip to Disney World/Universal Studios where we were at the parks from open to close every day. So my choices are currently:

 

Dec 14: Flight to Brisbane

Dec 15, 16, 17: Day trips out to include one I found that will fly to the GBR for the day. Pray for good weather as it is apparently iffy in December. French meal possibly at Aquitaine in Brisbane

Dec 18: Fly BNE to DFW

 

Dec 14: Flight to Cairns

Dec 15, 16: Day trips (of which there seem to be many more options of interest)

 

Dec 17: Either fly to Brisbane or return Sydney for French meal and flight home

 

My life would be so much easier if I could easily fly home from Cairns.

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My life would be so much easier if I could easily fly home from Cairns.

 

What about flying back via Auckland?

 

Get a return ticket to Auckland.

 

Cruise to Sydney.

 

Fly Sydney to Cairns.

 

Fly Cairns to Auckland.

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Thanks for all the suggestions. I still have many months before I have to be definite about anything although I have booked the cruise with a completely refundable option.

 

My current thought is to go to Brisbane and take day trips out from Brisbane including one to Lady Elliot Island which appears to be considered part of the GBR, so I can lay claim to having been there. Ideally we would do the overnight there option, but we are likely to have a lot of luggage that I would rather not haul from Brisbane there. Although if we stay at a hotel, maybe they could hold it it for us. There seems to be a couple day trip options out of Brisbane, so while perhaps not the most touristy city of choice, I think it might work for us.

 

There appears to be a French restaurant or two in Brisbane that will satisfy our French meal requirement on our anniversary night and we can fly to DFW with only one stop in LAX which is standard on American Airlines (where my miles are). I would love to get up to Cairns, but I think that is getting a little too crazy and in December apparently we run a higher risk of dying from stinging fish which would put a bit of a damper on our once-in-a-lifetime trip.

 

I might still change my mind before all this is over, but for now, that is where I am leaning.

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Also take into account the ship can also arrive late into Sydney. We had this happen to us last week, and arrived 5.5hrs late. So many people had to rework their plans including ourselves.

 

Although it is the beginning of summer there is no guarantee of great weather unfortunately.

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I think the Auckland idea is great, and will probably save you money on flights, since one way flights from the US are about as expensive as return flights.

 

Buy a return ticket to Auckland. Get off the ship in Sydney, fly to Cairns, spend your 2 days there, fly Cairns to Auckland. Fit in the restaurant somewhere (that will be your challenge!).

 

Forget Brisbane, I really don't see the point of Brisbane in this scenario. Your best day trip to the GBR is going to be from Cairns.

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Definitely agree with Toryhere, check out Hamilton Island as an option, Whitehaven Beach is one Island worth seeing. You are much closer to the GBR for day tours, you are not spending a couple of hours on a boat getting to great diving/snorkelling tours. Both Qantas and Virgin have daily flights.

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All the options I see from Cairns to Auckland have me stopping over again in Brisbane or Sydney. I could still go up to Cairns, but fly BNE-LAX-DFW which still means having our anniversary dinner in BNE. That is possible and still and option. Are there any direct CNS/AKL flights that I am not finding? Because if so, that would definitely make that more appealing.

 

I'm looking at booking a one way air and using miles for a business class ticket back (we learned once that you want your more comfortable flight on your return flight when your tired and less excited about the destination. So, I am not sure that a round trip fare is going to be that much of a big deal.

 

Also, I plan to take an evening flight from SYD to CNS/BNE, so if the ship is late, it should be okay. Any afternoon time we have, I can find something to do I am sure. Its figuring out what to do with all our luggage that is going to be the fun thing. Maybe we can rent a car for a couple hours or something and get from the port to the airport via a sightseeing drive around town. Can't be worse than the time my mother and I were in Berlin shortly after the wall fell, and we arrived in West Berlin, and had a taxi take us to the station in East Berlin via a couple iconic sightseeing stops all in the space of an hour. That man didn't speak a word of English and we didn't speak a word of German, but somehow we managed to get it all communicated and it worked out pretty well. We may have communicated in broken French.

 

So, tell me about snorkeling and the stinging fish in December. Should I be concerned about that or is that a bunch of hype? I don't particularly want to get stung, but I really don't want to die, so what's the deal there? I very much want to do a little snorkeling in the GBR, weather permitting.

 

Of course, I can't truly worry about air until January of next year.

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The luggage part is easy. There's a luggage storage place 2 minutes walk from the OPT, and another at Central Station.

 

Or - if you fly Virgin Australia to Cairns, they now set up a check in desk at the OPT (someone will need to confirm if this is done every time a ship comes in) and you can get off the ship, check in for your flight there and then, and they'll take your luggage right to the plane and issue you your boarding passes. Then you go about your day and just turn up to the airport for your flight. There's a $25 fee for doing this, well worth it.

 

By the time you come, other airlines may be doing this too.

 

Someone else will have to advise re stingers... I assume if the tours run in December (have a look for this December) then it must be ok.

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I think you may be mixing up stinging fish with box jellyfish:'). Don't worry most tour operators if there is a swarm they give you special suits to wear that will protect you. Just check with the tour providers what their policies are to be sure.

 

There are two direct flights from Cairns to Auckland they cover everyday except Wednesday. One is with Air New Zealand and the other Philippines Airlines. I am in agreement that going to Brisbane is a bad idea:( You will spend more time travelling to the GBR than at the GBR and since you have so little time you should find a way to make the most of it:D Unless of course you are a destination ticker in which case I guess it will do;p

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If you do decide to go to Cairns I suggest actually staying at Port Douglas, an hour away by shuttle bus.

 

For a reef trip I recommend Wavelength https://www.wavelength.com.au/ which departs from Port Douglas.

 

Then do a Daintree Forest tour with Tony's Tropical Tours https://www.tropicaltours.com.au/.

 

I recommend the Meridian Port Douglas apartment hotel. https://portdouglasmeridian.com/about/ It's one block from the main shopping street, and an easy walk to the marina. Tours pick up at the apartments. No children under 16 either. We've stayed there a number of times and always loved it.

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Posted (edited)

Sorry I was just informed Philippines airline no longer runs the Cairns to Auckland route:( But Air New Zealand is still going but no flights Wednesday or Tuesday.

 

If you are looking to sightsee Sydney driving is a bad idea. I can't speak to Berlin but as a local I will avoid driving in Sydney city as often as possible. It is that bad:eek:. To the airport you will end up on highways and see very little, besides you can't visit the Royal Botanic Gardens by car and those are some of the best views of the harbour;). Besides most of the main tourist attractions are in the vicinity of the OPT and the rest are reachable by foot or one or two stops from Circular Quay station. No need to to rent a car:cool:

Edited by ilikeanswers

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So. . .it seems the majority feel that the better option is:

 

SYD to Cairns on the Dec 14

Cairns Area 15 & 16

Return to Sydney or Brisbane on 17th for our anniversary dinner (possibly Auckland).

Home on the 18th because we are already pushing it for vacation days around the holidays, and we are going to pretend that we will actually be able to work on the 19th and 20th. Ha ha ha!!!!

 

As long as we don't die from stinging fish or box jellyfish or whatever things I've read about that are fatal in the GBR in December, then I'm game. The Cairns area does seem much nicer. Wasn't this my original idea?

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Went to a marvellous French restaurant in Sydney last night in Darlinghurst which is only a mile from the CBD. It’s called Loluk Bistro.

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If you do decide to go to Cairns I suggest actually staying at Port Douglas, an hour away by shuttle bus.

 

For a reef trip I recommend Wavelength https://www.wavelength.com.au/ which departs from Port Douglas.

 

Then do a Daintree Forest tour with Tony's Tropical Tours https://www.tropicaltours.com.au/.

 

I recommend the Meridian Port Douglas apartment hotel. https://portdouglasmeridian.com/about/ It's one block from the main shopping street, and an easy walk to the marina. Tours pick up at the apartments. No children under 16 either. We've stayed there a number of times and always loved it.

 

 

This. Do this.

 

You will have a trip to remember!

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Okay, I'm coming back to this because it will be easiest to keep all my crazy ideas in one thread. I think I am narrowing in on post-cruise crazy trip to GBR. Sydney to Cairns on debarkation day (Saturday), GBR (Sunday), Daintree (Monday), fly back to Sydney for anniversary dinner at French Restaurant and maybe a semi-romantic after dinner night walk across the bridge because we really aren't doing much in Sydney which I know is a shame, but that's what happens when you try to have your cake and eat it too. Having your cake, eating it, and not gaining wait is just impossible, so you have to give something up.

 

 

So, now on the front end. I'm really, really bummed, that I'm not going to see Mt. Cook. But then, I got this great idea, that maybe I could do a similar crazy trip on the front end of this cruise. Yes, yes. I have already admitted that I know it is insane, but I have done a lot of insane things in my life, so this would be par for the course. The trick would be convincing my husband. Below are my thought options:

 

 

Arrive Auckland Saturday, fly to Mt Cook, scenic flight and bum around Mt. Cook area on Sunday, fly back to Auckland on some horrid early flight to board ship on Monday.

 

Arrive Queenstown Saturday, one way rail or coach tour or something to Mt. Cook on Sunday. Scenic flight over Mt. Cook (would have to be afternoon and I read that clouds are more likely). Overnight in Mt. Cook for crazy morning flight to catch ship on Monday.

 

Do one of the above options and arrive on Friday but fly to Auckland on Sunday for an overnight before the cruise. That would allow us to see a maybe a tad bit of Auckland although honestly, I think if we haven't died of fatigue and jet lag by then, we probably would end up crashing in the hotel and missing Auckland anyway. And the whole reason we are doing a cruise and not a land tour is because my husband hates packing up and going from hotel to hotel. The first option would minimize that.

 

So, thoughts, rash political statements about my sanity or lack thereof. And, yes, I did look at flying RT to Sydney from DFW and then taking a one way from Sydney to Queenstown to Auckland but the air time simply increases too much when I am trying to use my miles on American. So a bunch of one way trips it is.

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Just reminder that this will be in the cyclone wet season. If the seas are rough, the small boats don't go out to the Great Barrier Reef, so the shorter the visit the higher the risk.

 

If time permits, Lady Elliott Island and Heron Island are both actually on the Great Barrier Reef, at the southern end.

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Yep. Weather is a risk. But weather is always a risk. I grew up on the Gulf Coast, so I get hurricane season. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed that since we will be there earlier in the summer, it will be like hurricane season in the states earlier in the summer. It's sometimes bad in June and July, but not like August, September, and October. So matching that to the seasons there, it sometimes happens in November/December, but more likely in January, February, and March. Maybe? Keeping my fingers crossed anyway. I'm also hoping for a clear day in Milford Sound in December which I hear is pretty hit or miss too.

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Yep. Weather is a risk. But weather is always a risk. I grew up on the Gulf Coast, so I get hurricane season. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed that since we will be there earlier in the summer, it will be like hurricane season in the states earlier in the summer. It's sometimes bad in June and July, but not like August, September, and October. So matching that to the seasons there, it sometimes happens in November/December, but more likely in January, February, and March. Maybe? Keeping my fingers crossed anyway. I'm also hoping for a clear day in Milford Sound in December which I hear is pretty hit or miss too.

 

Yes. The last couple of years we've had cyclones in April, which is late. We had beautiful weather in the Sounds in December, so I hope you are lucky.

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I wouldn't risk a flight from Mt Cook on embarkation day. If that flight is delayed or cancelled by weather you might not make it back to Auckland in time.

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Flights from Cairns to Auckland are only operated by Air New Zealand in the winter - so the Kiwi's can get some sun.

 

Cyclones on the east coast in December have been rare in recent years.

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Posted (edited)

Re your planned Mt Cook trip. I hope you have all your ducks in a row. I can't find any direct flights to Mt Cook from Auckland, only to Queenstown.

Queenstown to Mt Cook scenic flight 3 hrs $600 per passenger. Probably not do-able with less than two full days. As many overseas visitors have found out to their detriment, distances in NZ are much harder/ longer to cover than comparable in the US. And GPS units have sent people on un-navigable routes on many occasions.

Edited by Belmont Babe
Clarification

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BelmontBabe, you are correct. I've been researching options all day. This is harder to do when you are over a year out and can't research actual flight dates, but I want to have a plan because I've just realized that we will be leaving on the day before Thanksgiving which is one of the worst air travel days in the U.S., so I need to be ready to book my air like super early if I want to try for priority economy. I don't know if DFW SYD is a hot ticket item for people's 4-day holiday weekend, but I don't want to take chances. I also have to ease my husband into these plans and budget for them.

 

 

 

So. . .current pre-cruise plan I am attempting to sell my husband on:

 

 

Non-stop Dallas-Sydney on Qantas leaving Wed, arriving Friday because the laws of time and the international date line steal a day from me. Continue on same day to Queenstown or Christchurch.

 

 

Saturday - Insane day trip tour from Christchurch to Queenstown (or vice versa) via Mt. Cook which can include helicopter trip, weather permitting. Yes, I found one!

 

Sunday - spend day unconscious and recovering in Queenstown or Christchurch. If you had a day to spend unconscious and jet lagged, would you choose Queenstown or Christchurch? I am assuming that we would get out and walk about some. Yes, the cruise stops in Akoroa, but I want to do a Harbor Wildlife Cruise there, so I am not sure that I will make it into Christchurch. Is that horrible to miss Christchurch?

 

Monday - take ridiculously early flight to Auckland which hopefully will still be available in December 2019. Pray that there are no flight delays, arrive Auckland around 10:00am and head to ship for check-in. Now, I've never flown in the morning of a cruise before. I've always thought people are insane to do that, so I may convince my husband to accept spending three nights in three different hotels and fly in to Auckland the night before. What is the worst that happens? If we miss ship sail from Auckland can we board at the Bay of Islands? I am assuming that we could.

 

 

 

And just a recap on insane post-cruise plan:

Saturday: Sydney to Cairns

Sunday: GBR or Daintree Rainforest (depending on weather forecast)

Monday: Daintree Rainforest or GBR (whichever we didn't do day before)

Tuesday: Cairns Sydney

Wednesday: Sydney Dallas

 

It all looks doable on paper although I might have to mortgage my house again. I figure if we can do eight days in a row at Walt Disney World in the parks from open to close every day, going non-stop all day with two pre-teens in the Florida summer heat and humidity,, we can survive this. Sleep is not important! We can sleep on Christmas Weekend when we are back in the U.S.! And then maybe keep sleeping on into January!

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BelmontBabe, you are correct. I've been researching options all day. This is harder to do when you are over a year out and can't research actual flight dates, but I want to have a plan because I've just realized that we will be leaving on the day before Thanksgiving which is one of the worst air travel days in the U.S., so I need to be ready to book my air like super early if I want to try for priority economy. I don't know if DFW SYD is a hot ticket item for people's 4-day holiday weekend, but I don't want to take chances. I also have to ease my husband into these plans and budget for them.

 

 

 

So. . .current pre-cruise plan I am attempting to sell my husband on:

 

 

Non-stop Dallas-Sydney on Qantas leaving Wed, arriving Friday because the laws of time and the international date line steal a day from me. Continue on same day to Queenstown or Christchurch.

 

 

Saturday - Insane day trip tour from Christchurch to Queenstown (or vice versa) via Mt. Cook which can include helicopter trip, weather permitting. Yes, I found one!

 

Sunday - spend day unconscious and recovering in Queenstown or Christchurch. If you had a day to spend unconscious and jet lagged, would you choose Queenstown or Christchurch? I am assuming that we would get out and walk about some. Yes, the cruise stops in Akoroa, but I want to do a Harbor Wildlife Cruise there, so I am not sure that I will make it into Christchurch. Is that horrible to miss Christchurch?

 

Monday - take ridiculously early flight to Auckland which hopefully will still be available in December 2019. Pray that there are no flight delays, arrive Auckland around 10:00am and head to ship for check-in. Now, I've never flown in the morning of a cruise before. I've always thought people are insane to do that, so I may convince my husband to accept spending three nights in three different hotels and fly in to Auckland the night before. What is the worst that happens? If we miss ship sail from Auckland can we board at the Bay of Islands? I am assuming that we could.

 

 

 

And just a recap on insane post-cruise plan:

Saturday: Sydney to Cairns

Sunday: GBR or Daintree Rainforest (depending on weather forecast)

Monday: Daintree Rainforest or GBR (whichever we didn't do day before)

Tuesday: Cairns Sydney

Wednesday: Sydney Dallas

 

It all looks doable on paper although I might have to mortgage my house again. I figure if we can do eight days in a row at Walt Disney World in the parks from open to close every day, going non-stop all day with two pre-teens in the Florida summer heat and humidity,, we can survive this. Sleep is not important! We can sleep on Christmas Weekend when we are back in the U.S.! And then maybe keep sleeping on into January!

 

 

Hope you can sleep for a month when you get home.

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