|For our eighteenth cruise we took the Regal Princess to Australia and New Zealand! I had fun and fond memories of my Australia trip back in July of 1987 but that was a while ago. It certainly made me look forward to returning Down Under and visiting the strange and wonderful animals as well as seeing New Zealand for the first time. Doing it by cruise made the trip even more of a treat.
While similar, Australia and New Zealand have very different feels. Australia is a country of vibrant color, sharply delineated. New Zealand has a softer, green beauty. I find this contrast interesting as New Zealand is the land of active geothermal activity and volcanoes, the land still alive and growing, yet is presents a more serene face. Were these personalities shaped by the immigrants--Australia's rough and tumble prisoners and New Zealand's settlers by choice--or by the land itself--Australia's vastness and New Zealand's lush hills? Each was exhilarating and wonderful in its own way. When I think back on our trip, these are the moments which rush into my mind: discovering and cuddling the wombat; the glistening day in Bay of Islands; the massive ancient gum tree rivaling in size but not age our giant redwoods; the silent beauty of the glowworms.
|There's no getting around the long, long flight from California to Australia/New Zealand but Qantas had decent leg room even in economy. They fed us, turned down the lights, showed a movie/let us sleep, fed us again and pretty soon it was the dawn of a new day with one day skipped. Crossing the International Dateline is always confusing. (Even more so coming back when we arrive in California the morning before the night we left NZ!) Still, Princess met us in good form and we opted for a brief Sydney city tour before boarding our ship. We didn't get up close but did have several good views of Harbor Bridge, aka The Coat hanger because of its shape and appearance, and of the Sydney Opera House. Overcast and a bit drizzly but temperature was mild. In fact, the weather our entire trip was a mixed bag but never really cold and never ugly for long. Some days were downright glorious and summery.|
|Had no trouble settling into the ship's routine and the luxury of being at leisure and playing rich. Regal Princess is a very livable ship with nicely sized and laid out cabins and lots of closet and drawer storage. Her casino is at the very top and certainly not intrusive in the least. In fact, one has to seek out the casino. Fine with us, certainly, and didn't seem to be a problem for those who really want to gamble.|
|Our favorite bar lounge was the small Characters on Deck 12 just off the pool area. Small, lots of windows and natural light and not heavily trafficked. We met Grace David there. She is a 28 year old woman who has graduated from the hospitality industry in the Philippines and whose mother is also a Soroptimist in the Philippines! Grace adopted us as her "mom and dad" and took great care of us at whatever bar/lounge she was working. From her we learned that the bar stewards rotate every 7 days. Seems a fair way to distribute the workload and therefore the tips. Grace is a delight and certainly hustles as a worker. She will be staying on Regal Princess this summer so we may well hear from her when she is in San Francisco! That would be fun.||
|I certainly enjoyed our days at sea. While perhaps an entire day would not have favorable weather, at least part of most days did so I was able to get in a good deal of sun. The ship's sauna and steam rooms were complimentary and I certainly enjoyed them. I did my best to get there nearly every day. It was certainly great to have the first day at sea so we had time to catch up to ourselves and recover from our flights. Mike loved the hot tubs too!|
|The many public rooms around the ship are beautiful and comfortable. The elegant Bengal Bar was our spot for hors d'oeuvres before dinner and we always had a great time there.||
|The dining room was wonderful and the food was up to the usual high standards of the Princess line. Every dinner was a gourmet feast. Adrian our waiter was from Romania and Krai our assistant was from Thailand and they made sure we had everything we wanted!|
|There were lots of spectacular shows. Mike particularly enjoyed meeting the showgirls!||
|The decks of the ship are spacious and there is plenty of room to enjoy the scenery.|
|Mike always treats himself to caviar on our cruises. He enjoyed the caviar bar on Regal Princess. Meanwhile I was treating myself to a wonderful massage in the spa!||
|The cruise ended in Auckland, and before departing for home, we visited a trendy little restaurant named Guacos for the biggest roast beef sandwich we have ever seen!!
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