New Zealand cruises are the perfect way to travel, and New Zealand is the perfect cruise destination. The two main islands are easily circumnavigated during a two-week jaunt, plus the many sights vary from dramatic fiords to vineyards, Maori culture and big city life.
Princess Cruises’ mid-size ship Dawn Princess heads out on a series of 13-night round trips from Sydney, covering the whole country from north to south, including the idyllic Bay of Islands. After two days crossing the Tasman, the ship glides into Fiordland National Park to spend a day cruising through three majestic sounds – Milford, Dusky and Doubtful. Then it’s around the bend and on to Dunedin to explore a city with not only the world’s steepest street, but a grand railway station and a castle. The French-inspired Akaroa is the next port of call, with charming wooden houses and French street signs, while Picton is the branching-off point for tours of the Marlborough Sound wineries. The cruise finishes with the ship anchoring in the Bay of Islands for a full day. Cruises depart October 29, November 11 and 24, 2015; and January 3 and April 7, 2016.
Big, beautiful Diamond Princess (complete with a Japanese bathhouse and sushi restaurant) offers two different itineraries over the summer from Sydney. The 12-night cruise calls at Auckland, Tauranga (for trips to Rotorua and its hot springs) and the capital Wellington. On the South Island it calls at charming Akaroa, Dunedin and caps off the cruise with a scenic exploration of the glacial fiords, including stunning Milford Sound. This February 4, 2016 sailing is ideal for couples, singles and groups of friends. The 13-night cruise offers the same itinerary in reverse but omits Wellington and adds a call at the gorgeous Bay of Islands. It departs on December 21, 2015 and Christmas will be celebrated in Dunedin.
How about celebrating New Year’s Eve on the high seas? That’s what’s in store for passengers taking Royal Caribbean’s 10-night cruise to New Zealand on December 29. Aboard the magnificent Voyager of the Seas, passengers might like to try their skills on the FlowRider surf simulator as they’re cruising through Milford Sound or rock-climb on the very top deck for magnificent views of Dusky Sound. After a day in the Fiordland, the ship heads to the capital Wellington, where it berths virtually in the heart of town. Voyager of the Seas then heads south again briefly to call at Picton on the tip of the South Island known for its award-winning sauvignon blancs.
Repeat New Zealand visitors will like this 11-night circumnavigation of the North Island and the chance to sail on Royal Caribbean’s newest ship to come Down Under, Explorer of the Seas. A sister to Voyager, it also sports the FlowRider, an ice-skating rink and a dozen bars and restaurants. The highlights of this itinerary departing January 6 and 17 and February 24, 2016 will be the art deco city of Napier where folks can take vintage car rides, the vineyards and a visit to Tauranga on the Bay of Plenty.