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From Auckland To Sydney:

My 21 Day Adventure to the Land Downunder


I have often been asked "How did a lawyer from Alabama find her way to New Zealand and Australia?" Well, it's a long story so I thought I would tell it here. It was one of the greatest adventures of my life and I rememember it like it was yesterday.

So, here goes:

Day 1- Montgomery to Los Angeles (1/2/05)

One day, after watching the Olympics in Sydney for 2 weeks, my mother told me she wanted to visit Australia. I thought the idea was far fetched at first, but then I thought, why not go? So, I booked a 12 day Princess cruise and after a year of careful planning, we (My Mom and I) began our journey leaving Montgomery, Alabama at 5:30am on the day after New Years on a Delta Flight to Los Angeles, California via Atlanta. We arrived in LA around 10:00am to pouring rain and cold weather. A free hotel shuttle took us to the Embassy Suites North, less than a mile from the airport. The hotel was nice and they had our room ready for us after a short wait. As the weather was pretty miserable, we stayed in the suite and relaxed until 5:30pm when we went to the complimentary Manager’s Reception in the Lounge. We had snacks and some good wine and then went to bed.

Day 2 and 3- Los Angeles to Auckland (1/3-4/05)

Our flight to Auckland, New Zealand was scheduled for 8:30pm on Qantas Airlines. We arrived at the International Terminal with all of our luggage (about 8 bags in all, way too much, never again!) around 6:00pm. Check-in was a pain because of all the security, but we found porters to help us and the Qantas staff was nice. We finally got to the gate around 7:30pm.

The advice I was given to fly on Qantas was right on target; it was a great flight (for 12 hours) even though the plane was full. The flight attendants (mostly good-looking men) served us a great meal with a bottle of wine or what ever we wanted to drink, (this was coach!). They served us ice cream sandwiches and even more goodies and snacks after dinner.

Each airplane seat had a personal entertainment center where you could watch first run movies and TV shows as you chose and we were given a sleep mask, socks and a tooth brush to use during the night. After watching a movie, I took an Ambien sleep tablet (also recommended) and went right to sleep for about 5 hours. When I awoke, the flight attendants were serving us a hot breakfast and we were within an hour of landing at the Auckland International airport at 6:00am New Zealand time.

Day 4- Auckland, New Zealand (1/5/05)

After being processed through Immigration, we collected our bags and got a taxi to the Auckland Hilton hotel. Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand, is very beautiful. It is very green and clean with a pretty, picturesque countryside and small quaint houses that we could see on the drive into town. The Hilton hotel was right on the water at the Harbor. A luxury hotel, it had very modern décor with lots of windows were you can see the ocean from every vantage point. Our ship, the Sapphire Princess would be docking right outside our balcony the next morning so we did not have far to go to get onboard.

After having (another) huge breakfast in the dining room, we checked out our hotel room (excellent) changed clothes and went out to explore Auckland, the City of Sails”. I must note something different I noticed right away about this city. The people there are unbelievably friendly and helpful. They were SO NICE to us it was unreal! Even though we did not see many African Americans and only a few people of color;


we were, for the most part, noticed for being American Citizens and we were treated very well.

We visited the Tourist Information office and then strolled around downtown (very pretty). We viewed the Sky City Tower, the trendy Viaduct area and the America’s Cup Harbor. After taking lots of photos, we ate lunch at the Harborview Restaurant on the balcony overlooking the water. The fresh seafood was fabulous as was the dessert and the Lawson’s New Zealand Chardonnay.

Mom went back to the hotel after lunch and I walked around downtown. I found the shopping center, Queen Street, a long avenue with Designer stores and shops everywhere. At the Louis Vuitton store, I found a new style of their handbags that I had to have. I paid for the bag (duty free) and the clerk (a very nice woman) held it for me to be sent to the ship when it came into port. Finally exhausted from exploring, I headed back to the hotel.

With the 17 hour time difference finally catching up to us, Mom and I called it a day and relaxed in our room. The next morning at 5:00am, we got up just in time to see the Sapphire Princess pulling into port just outside our balcony door. What a huge ship! She was 115,000 gross tons of pure beauty! We could hardly wait to get onboard later in the day.

Day 5-Embarkation and Sailaway (1/6/05)

Unfortunately, it rained most of our last day in Auckland. I did manage to take some photos of the Sapphire docked next to the Hilton and I bought 2 bottles of New Zealand wine to take aboard the ship. Embarkation turned out to be a major pain. Waiting in a long line to check in definitely dampened our mood, but at SAILAWAY at 6:00pm the sun finally came out as the ship left the pier and Auckland faded into the background. Now, it’s on to Wellington, New Zealand the next port of call.


Posted by Gerriv 16:43

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Wow! Felt as though I was almost there - smile.

Extremely interesting and informative.

I would like to hear your experience on Board as

I am looking forward to my first cruise.


by Clariner Boston

Hi Clariner!

I know you are excited about your cruise! I talk more about being on board in Part II and Part III of this Blog. I enjoyed being on the ship almost as much as being in the different locations. You are taken care of and pampered in so many ways. All the staff wants to do is make you happy. I enjoyed sitting out on our balcony at Sail Away with a glass of wine watching the coastline fade into the distance. It is so PEACEFUL and beautiful! This ship had everything, it was brand new when we sailed on her (Sapphire Princess).

by Gerriv

Hi Gerri!

I enjoyed reading about your travels. You've inspired me to step up my efforts to convince Pete that we're long overdue for our first cruise. I'm looking forward to reading your next installment. Thanks for sharing!

by Karen Phillips-Savoy

Thanks Karen! Let me know when you are ready to go and I will find the perfect cruise for you and Pete!

by Gerriv

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