New Zealand – Sea Princess 2019

I embarked Sea Princess for a trip to New Zealand visiting Wellington, Tauranga, Napier and Auckland. Unfortunately, it was late leaving due to a Cyclone delaying the ship so I didn’t get to visit the South Island.

Due to the Cyclone that had caused issues on my previous cruise with P&O, it still continued to cause problems for my second cruise. I was due to embark Sea Princess on 24th February, but due to the port being closed, I didn’t embark until 27th. Embarkation was plagued with problems due to the computer system not working correctly. The ship was supposed to leave at midday, but we ended up leaving at around 4.30pm. This is the route we were due to take (when leaving on the 24th).

Because of the three day delay, Princess cruises changed the itinerary to leave out the South Island completely so we headed straight to Wellington for our first stop. Although we can’t control the weather, I can’t help thinking that it would have been nicer to have done the South Island and Wellington. I feel I missed out on a lot of the nice unspoilt part of New Zealand. Also, its a long way to go to do the cruise again (and as a solo, I have to pay double! Anyway, I found it a bit difficult to ‘enjoy’ this cruise as much as the other one and it also seemed that the rest of the passengers also felt the same.

Wellington

Wellington was our first port of call after 3 days at sea. The sea was kind to us and the sea days were pleasant. Sea Princesses entertainment team were top notch, but extra thanks has to go to ‘Bingo Matt’ who was a super entertainer and always had a smile (and a joke) with you.

We arrived in the port of Wellington at 8am and I had a tour booked which was to see some of the sights of Wellington and a visit to the Te Papa Museum and a cable car ride. As it was very early in the morning, nothing was open so we made the most of it and visited some of the older buildings.

We then headed off to the Te Papa museum and saw some exhibits. We weren’t allowed to photograph some (mainly from the mauri tribes). It was a bit of a flying visit and we had our own tour guide.

The model of the soldier is 8-9 feet tall and the photo doesn’t do it justice. I wish I’d had longer to have a really good look around (there are a couple more photos of this particular exhibit in the photos on my Facebook page).

On leaving the museum, we then headed to ride up in the cable car. Once at the top, we had a little bit of time to look around, take photos and look at the museum. It was all really interesting and the view spectacular.

We were then taken by minibus back down to the city. We had the opportunity to be dropped off in the town and then get the courtesy bus back to the ship. I did this and had a brief look around the shop before returning back to the ship. This was a tour organised by Princess cruises and was a small group one (so around 12 of us on a minibus). This was nicer as we weren’t waiting around for lots of people to get back/on/off the bus. It was an enjoyable visit to wellington, but if I went back, I think I would opt to look around on my own next time and enjoy what Wellington has to offer.

Tauranga

We left port around 6pm and headed to our next port – Tauranga. Again, I had booked a tour. I was going to Hobbiton!

It was a very hot day. I managed to walk some of it, but not all. Hobbiton was a very interesting place and it was a bit surreal to be there. I am not sure my photos do it justice. I think it was the most relaxing and most beautiful place I think I have ever been to. When you arrive at Hobbiton, you are not allowed to go around on your own – you are put into group tours.

When we arrived, we were treated to drinks and cakes (except me – they didn’t have much that I could eat!)

My group sitting in the shade enjoying their snack.

We all then headed off on the tour. As I said above, I didn’t make it all the way around so headed back as it looked quite a long hike – and I was right!

Once the group had got back, we headed into The Green Dragon Inn for a drink.

After a short break, we then headed back on the coach to the ship. I loved Hobbiton and will go back next time and try and take in the whole tour, but just being there was a lovely experience.

Napier

Napier is a popular tourist city, with a unique concentration of 1930s Art Deco architecture, built after much of the city was razed in the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake. It was a very interesting city.

Again, I opted for a tour and this one took me to a fruit farm, Te Mata Peak and a chocolate factory. The first stop was the fruit farm and we were shown the process that the apples undertake before being sent to supermarkets.

After having a small snack of apples and apple juice (there’s a surprise!) we headed back to the coach to our next stop which was the Silky Chocolate Factory. I bought chocolate (of course). There wasn’t really much to photograph and I took the photo below before realising that we weren’t allowed to take any.

Our next stop was majestic Te Mata Peak at the western boundary of Heretaunga Plains. This was around an hours drive, but it was worth it. As a word of advice; get your driver to stop at the bottom by the toilets as there is none at the top. Once we were up there, I needed to go and was desperate. One of the guys who was directing the vehicles told me I would have to wait, but said if I was really desperate, I could go to the ‘pee tree’, which I did!!

After heading back, I got off in Napier and had a look around the shops.

I then got the courtesy bus back to the ship, and there was some 1920’s vehicle and the owners were all dressed in costume, which was a lovely sight.

Auckland

When the ship arrived, I was feeling a little tired so took the morning to have a rest and recuperate (after all, the last three days were quite busy. When I was feeling a little better, I walked across the small port to the ferry terminal and got the ferry across to Devonport. It was only a 12 minute ferry ride. The cruise ship docks right near the city – and you walk off the ship and its a short walk away.

I had some lunch and a little walk around, took some photos and then took the ferry back to Auckland. That evening, I went to the casino in Auckland and then back to the ship ready for a late evening sail away.

On leaving Auckland, we had three sea days before reaching Brisbane but I was staying on the ship for another 2 days after that where I would disembark in Sydney for a 4 night stay and the start of my road trip. Please join me on my next blog which will be Sydney Part 2!

As always, I will post all my photos on my Facebook page, so please visit if you wish to see more photos. Thank you for reading my blog. If you would like to book a holiday, please don’t hesitate to contact me janinec@travel-pa.com or through my Facebook page.

Preparing for an 87 night holiday!

On January 6th 2019, I am embarking on an epic (for me anyway) trip and going away from my husband, kids (23 and 24 year old who have both left home) and dogs for 87 nights. I am doing half a world cruise on P&O’s arcadia, a two week cruise on Sea Princess around New Zealand, travelling onto Sydney to spend 4 nights, collecting a hire car and travelling to Melbourne over 10 days before arriving in Melbourne for 4 nights and heading back to the UK on 29th March. I will be visiting lots of places, but before I leave, I wanted to share some useful information of tips to make your stay on a cruise ship easier and to make the cabin homely which I collected from members of my world cruise Facebook group that I set up just after I booked the tripOn January 6th 2019, I am embarking on an epic (for me anyway) trip and going away from my husband, kids and dogs for 87 nights. I am doing half a world cruise on P&O’s arcadia, a two week cruise on Sea Princess around New Zealand, travelling onto Sydney to spend 4 nights, collecting a hire car and travelling to Melbourne over 10 days before arriving in Melbourne for 4 nights and heading back to the UK on 29th March. I will be visiting lots of places, but before I leave, I wanted to share some useful information of tips collected from members of my world cruise Facebook group that I set up just after I booked the trip.If you were going on such a long trip with your partner and leaving your home empty, you would have to consider such things as informing your insurance company or arranging a house sitter, keep the heating on low (if in the winter), have your mail held at the local office, emptying and turning off fridges and freezers etc. Fortunately for me, my husband is staying, so I didn’t have to do any of this.

If you were going on such a long trip with your partner and leaving your home empty, you would have to consider such things as informing your insurance company or arranging a house sitter, keep the heating on low (if in the winter), have your mail held at the local office, emptying and turning off fridges and freezers etc. Fortunately for me, my husband is staying, so I didn’t have to do any of this.

The following are my suggestions to make your holiday more enjoyable.

Magnets – these are handy on a cruise because the walls are steel, so you can use them to attach your daily paper (which has details of activities on the ship) and personal items (photos of loved ones) to make your cabin more homely. I’ve purchased four to start me off and they are of my home town, Bristol. I hope to buy a magnet in each port as a small memento of my trip so will have a few more before I get home.

Magnetic hooks – again, these can go on the wall and are useful for hanging your bag, coat, bathrobe and anything else that hangs and should save you space.

Seasickness tablets or bands – I haven’t ever suffered from sea sickness but I have a fear of suffering seasickness! I have purchased some Sturgeon which I use if the Captain says the sea state is going to be really rough. On a Cruise ship, you know when its going to be bad because seasickness bags get put out by all the lifts!

Travel socket – I’ve got a travel socket that has two plugs and four USB slots. Most cruise ships have only one plug in the cabin, so I always travel with my travel plug. It will also be useful for Australia as I have an Australian adaptor for it too.

Packing cubes – These are a godsend! Even though they look small, they can hold a lot of clothing. In case you’ve never heard of them, here is a link to them on amazon

Waterproof bag – If, like me, you enjoy a bit of snorkelling, swimming or going on a boat, a waterproof bag is a good investment. As well as keeping everything dry, if you take them in the water with you, they act as a floating aid. You can see them here.

Mosquito repellent – on this trip, I am travelling to ‘at risk’ places such as the Panama Canal and some of the South Pacific Islands. Advice from some surgeries (this has been discussed at length on our Facebook group) are to take malaria tablets, but others have been advised to just use a repellent with ‘Deet’ in and to cover up. Because we will be leaving at around 4/5pm, we ‘shouldn’t’ have any problems as mozzies tend to come out in the evening. Of course, it is up to you what you do – I am not advising you either way!

Sunscreen (natural if going in sea – some affect the oceans) – Sunscreen is essential if you are, like me, very white and burn easily! The problem with sunscreen is that it is reported that sunscreen is responsible for bleaching Coral because of Oxybenzone (a detailed article from the Guardian is here). If you are aware of this and you want to swim but not to cause any damage to the sea, there are ways to do this. When I swim in the sea, I tend to wear swim leggings and a rash top (I purchased mine from Coolibar in the USA) and also swim shoes. The only bit exposed is my face, so I always search for a sea friendly brand of sunscreen – there are plenty out there, just search the internet.

Travel blanket – I like to take a travel blanket – nice to have something familiar when travelling and, if on a cruise, it makes a good shawl to go onto the decks in the evening if you fancy popping out for a bit of fresh air.

Cable tidy bag – AI never know where to find my cables so invested in cable bag for all my cables and bits and pieces like batteries (for my cameras), selfie stick and mini tripod.

Torch – In my Facebook group, some people have advised to take a torch as, in the Cabins on Arcadia, the reading light is really low on the back of the bed so is not as effective as it has been designed to be. You also never know when you might need a light!

RFID purse for out and about – protect your credit cards and passport from being copied and fraudulently used. Some countries have prolific pickpockets and it has be know for people to carry a credit card machine around to capture wireless charging.

Travel WiFi dongle/hotspot hub – I managed to find a travel wifi hub which holds a sim card and is unlocked so can be used in any country. At the same time, I found a 24gb data sim from 3 (both on Amazon – the sim was cheaper on Amazon than buying direct from 3). I am hoping this will allow me internet access in port so that I can update my blog and Facebook page. I’m not sure how long it will last, but will report back.

Mini Air Humidifier – Again, another discussion in our World Cruise Facebook group was the dry air and trying to ensure our wellbeing (especially on a long cruise). This mini one had been used by someone in the group and was recommended. They suggested using it at night. You can purchase it with Amazon here.

Water bottle (metal) – With all the worry of pollution in our seas, I wanted to take a bottle with me so opted for a metal bottle rather than a plastic one. I purchased mine from Amazon. I purchased one similar to the one in this link.

I hope these ideas help you when packing for a long trip (particularly a cruise). The next blog will be when I start my holiday and leave Bristol to go to Southampton on 5th January.

If you have any suggestions for essential items for a cruise or holiday, please comment.