New Zealand: 14 nights in January 2014

This cruise on the elegant Celebrity Solstice from Auckland takes in the best of New Zealand before crossing the Tasman to stop at Hobart and Melbourne and disembark in Sydney. Making the best of the New Zealand midsummer, it takes in all the major port stops in the Land of the Long White Cloud over a fun and relaxing 2 weeks.

From Auckland, the first port of call comes the next day in the Bay of Islands to the north. This is a playground for small craft, so get off the ship and onto some tours if you can! Jet boats take visitors out to the 'Hole in the Rock' rock formation, and there is a lagoon with an underwater trail for snorkelers at Roberton Island. Next is Tauranga, a beachy and relaxed city on the eastern coast. A landmark here is Mount Maunganui, a mountain at the end of a strip of surfer's paradise-style beach, hotels and shops.

View from Mount Maunganui
by Andrew and Annemarie Flickr Creative Commons

After Tauranga comes a relaxing day at sea as the ship makes its way down the coast to Wellington. The capital city is very tourist-friendly, with a lot happening on the waterfront and all the major sites and shopping within easy walking distance. Be sure to check out Te Papa, a museum which holds the natural and social history of the nation. A trip on the Cable Car will take you up the hill to a wonderful view and the Wellington Botanic Gardens.

The first port in New Zealand's South Island is Akaroa, near the city of Christchurch. This pretty town on the harbour of the same name has a fascinating french heritage and is frequently visited by tiny Maui dolphins, with dolphin-swimming tours available. Next is Dunedin, a city with Scottish roots and a vibrant student population. The final stop before crossing the Tasman is the jewel in the crown of any New Zealand cruise- the Milford Sounds. Between 8am and 6pm the ship tours the Dusky, Doubtful and Milford Sounds, allowing spectacular scenic cruising in these beautiful drowned valleys.

Doubtful Sound
by Merav Benaia Flickr Creative Commons

After a 2-day crossing, the ship calls in at Hobart on the island of Tasmania, Australia. Once a penal colony, it is now a city full of history. Melbourne comes next, Australia's stately southern city with a great arts and culture scene. Disembark in Sydney at the end of the 2 weeks.

Operator: Celebrity
Vessel: Celebrity Solstice
Ports of Call: Auckland, Bay of Islands, Tauranga, Wellington, Akaroa, Dunedin, Milford Sounds, Hobart, Melbourne, Sydney.
 Sailing Dates: January 3rd 2014- January 17th 2014.

Cruise Itinerary

Length of cruise: 14 nights

Day 1: Auckland, departing Fri 3 Jan 08:00
Day 2: Bay of Islands, Sat 4 Jan 07:00- 18:00
Day 3: Tauranga, Sun 5 Jan 07:30- 18:00
Day 4: At sea
Day 5: Wellington, Tues 7 Jan 08:00- 18:00
Day 6: Akaroa, Wed 8 Jan 08:00- 18:00
Day 7: Dunedin, Thurs 9 Jan 07:00- 17:00
Day 8: Milford Sounds, Fri 10 Jan 08:00- 18:00 (scenic cruising)
Day 9-10: At sea
Day 11: Hobart, Mon 13 Jan 08:00- 20:00
Day 12: At sea
Day 13: Melbourne, Wed 15 Jan 08:00- 18:00
Day 14: At sea
Day 15: Sydney, arriving Fri 17 Jan 06:30

About the Celebrity Solstice

The Solstice benefits from a great design, making the ship feel uncrowded, light and airy. She is also easily navigable, and makes cruising easy and fun! Dining options are plentiful, both those included in the cruise fare and specialty restaurants. The main restaurant is simply stunning thanks to the enormous chandelier and white walls, and you can try the best of French, Italian, Asian and more in the specialty eating places.During the day, enjoy the real grass at the Lawn Club, or try the cruise ship staples of gym, pool and bingo. There is an extensive enrichment program called Celebrity Life which includes a first at sea, the hot glass show which demonstrates the art of blowing glass.

Celebrity Solstice
by Adam Jones Flickr Creative Commons

See here for great deals on the New Zealand cruise aboard the Celebrity Solstice in January 2014!

Southern Australia Sojourn: 12 nights in January 2013

This cruise on the lovely Crystal Symphony begins in Melbourne and disembarkation takes place in Brisbane. It takes in 5 of Australia's bigger cities, and spends several days in each one to allow time to appreciate each one.

After the laid-back and cultured Melbourne, the first port of call is Adelaide. The capital of South Australia, it is known for the surrounding wine country and the excellent city planning which makes Adelaide's central area easy to navigate.  A great city to walk on foot! Next is Hobart, Tasmania's metropolis. Hobart is full of history, founded in 1804 as a penal colony and now a friendly city, port, capital and centre of antarctic operations. Visit the extensive Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens or the museums and art galleries. Because the cruise allows 2 days in all cities, there is plenty of time for exploration and/or shore tours.

Adelaide River
by JAK SIE MASZ Flickr Creative Commons

Sydney comes after Hobart, and needs little introduction. A busy, vibrant world city with lots going on, it is Australia's biggest urban centre and packed with things to do. Bondi is one of the city's famous beaches along with Manly on the northern side of the harbour. The ship docks in Darling Harbour where you can easily access the central city which includes the iconic Opera House and bridge along with fabulous eating and shopping.

After 2 days in Sydney, the ship moves on to Brisbane, the final destination. There is one day and night onboard here before disembarkation, so plenty of time to look around before packing your bags! Brisbane is coming in to its own as a city, and is no longer the country cousin to Sydney. It is however very laid-back, so enjoy the slower pace! Wander the river banks and shop or eat in the great Queen Street Mall.

Crystal Symphony
by Trondheim Havn Flickr Creative Commons

Operator: Crystal Cruises
Vessel: Crystal Symphony
Ports of Call: Melbourne, Adelaide, Hobart, Sydney, Brisbane.
Sailing Dates: Saturday 5th January 2013- Thurs 17th January 2013.

Cruise Itinerary

Length of Cruise: 12 nights

Day 1: Melbourne, embark Sat 5 Jan 16:00
Day 2: Melbourne, depart Sun 6 Jan 06:00
Day 3: Adelaide, arriving Mon 7 Jan 08:00
Day 4: Adelaide, departing Tues 8 Jan 17:00
Day 5: At sea
Day 6: Hobart, arriving Thurs 10 Jan 13:00
Day 7: Hobart, departing Fri 11 Jan 17:00
Day 8: At sea
Day 9: Sydney, arriving Sun 13 Jan 08:00
Day 10: Sydney, departing Mon 14 Jan 17:00
Day 11: At sea
Day 12: Brisbane, arriving Wed 16 Jan 08:00
Day 13: Brisbane, disembarking Thurs 17 Jan 08:00

About the Crystal Symphony

Crystal's hallmarks are their exemplary service, great quality and abundance of choice.  The Crystal Symphony's cabins and suites are luxurious and comfortable, andthe dining top-notch. The Lido Cafe is the buffet option, whilst full a-la-carte dining happens in The restaurant, and is varied and delicious, and the service is impeccable as always. Other dining venues include the Trident Bar and Grill and The Bistro, and there are several specialty restaurants of varying cuisines with a small cover charge. On sea days, passengers can enjoy a great poolside buffet. To fill the time, you can try the enrichment offerings of Crystal's Creative Learning Institute, relax in the beautiful spa, swim in the pool, work out or join in on the many organised activities such as bingo, scrabble and trivia. For the evenings, Luxe is the ship's nightclub, and she has several other bars and a theatre, the Galaxy Lounge.

See here for great deals on the Southern Australia Sojourn cruise!

Sunshine Melodies: 9 nights in January 2013

This 9- night cruise on the Pacific Pearl to some amazing destinations in French Polynesia will relax and amaze you! The first stop after a few days chilling onboard the Pearl is Port Vila, the charming capital of Vanuatu. Here you can peruse the handicraft markets and just explore the amazing tropical town. There are several shore tours available here including a visit to the chief's meeting house! The next stop is the tiny and uninhabited Mystery Island in Vanuatu, then the gorgeous Isle of Pines in New Caledonia, famous for its pine trees, white sand and turquoise water- a true paradise! Enjoy a few more days at sea and take advantage of the ship's facilities on the way back to Sydney.

Port Vila
by Phillip Capper Flickr Creative Commons

Operator: P&O Australia
Vessel: Pacific Pearl
Ports of Call: Sydney, Port Vila, Mystery Island, Isle of Pines
Sailing Dates: Tuesday 8 January 2013- Thursday 17 January 2013

Cruise Itinerary:

Length of cruise: 9 nights

Day 1: Sydney, departing Tues 8 Jan 16:00
Day 2-4: At sea
Day 5: Port Vila, Sat Jan 12 08:00- 19:00
Day 6: Mystery Island, Sun Jan 13 08:00-18:00
Day 7: Isle of Pines, Mon 14 Jan 08:00- 16:00
Day 8-9: At sea
Day 10: Sydney, arriving Thurs 17 Jan 07:00

About the Pacific Pearl

The Pearl provides a great holiday, with both opportunities to unwind and do nothing and enough activity and entertainment so you'll never be bored! There are loungers around the pool,  spas, an adults-only area with luxury loungers and a bar, and a spa favcility with amazing treatments available. For those wishing to be a bit more active, there is the rock-climbing wall, mini-golf, sport courts and a fully-equipped gym. For evening entertainment, there is always something going on in the bars and the theatre. Dining happens a la carte in the main dining room or at a varied buffet, and there is the Salt Grill restaurant for a gourmet experience- this has a small cover charge.

Pacific Pearl
by Doug Beckers Flickr Creative Commons

See here for great deals on the Sunshine Melodies Cruise in January 2013!

Pacific Treasures: 10 nights in January 2013

by prayitno Flickr Creative Commons

This cruise to some French Polynesian destinations on the Oosterdam with Holland America is one of the Pacific cruises we all know and love, but with a different spin- as the Holland America Line ships bring something else- a bit of tradition and old-school glamour. The line is known for its eclectic and thoughtful collections of art onboard, and the special touch services- like waiters roaming the decks with cool lemonade or hot soup depending on the weather!

The ship leaves from Sydney and stops first in Noumea, the capital of New Caledonia. This lovely city takes its culture from both the French immigrants and the native Kanak people. Port Vila is next, a charming city in Vanuatu where you can peruse the markets or watch fishing boats come and go in the busy natural harbour. Two unspoilt tropical paradises are the next destinations: Mystery Island in Vanuatu and the Isle of Pines in New Caledonia. Both have small populations, white sand, blue water and friendly natives to relax and entertain you before the ship returns to Sydney over a few sea days.

Operator: Holland America Line
Vessel: Oosterdam
Ports of Call: Sydney, Noumea, Port Vila, Mystery Island, Isle of Pines
Sailing Dates: Wednesday 2 January 2013- Saturday 12 January 2013

Cruise Itinerary

Length of cruise: 10 nights

Day 1: Sydney, departing Wed 2 Jan 18:30
Day 2-3: At sea
Day 4: Noumea, Sat 5 Jan 08:00-12:00
Day 5:  At sea
Day 6: Port Vila, Mon 7 Jan 08:00- 17:00
Day 7: Mystery Island, Tues 8 Jan 08:00- 17:00
Day 8: Isle of Pines, Wed 9 Jan 08:00- 17:00
Day 9-10: At sea
Day 11: Sydney, arriving Sat 12 Jan 07:00

About the Oosterdam

The Oosterdam is one of Holland America's Vista class ship, and brings a bit of youthfulness to the traditional Holland America design. To keep passengers busy, there is a Culinary Arts centre for lessons in food and cooking, and Digital Workshop, a computing education facility. Other organised activities include bingo, language classes, quizzes and sports, as well as the nighttime shows and live music.  Holland America once had a reputation for bland and boring dining, but this has been overhauled and now the menu onboard is top-notch. The main dining room offers traditional dining times or open dining, and there is a buffet, along with several casual lunch options and the specialty Pinnacle Grill which has a small cover charge. Room service is free with a good menu. There is a gym and 3 pools onboard.

See here for great deals on the Pacific Treasures Cruise in January 2013!

Bali and Lombok Cruise: 11 nights in January 2013

by Bart Speelman Flickr Creative Commons

Something for the west coasters! Classic International Cruises is offering this Bali and Lombok Cruise from Perth on the stately and intimate Athena in January 2013. Be warned, there are many sea days on this cruise, but if you want a lot of relaxation at sea, it will be the cruise for you! With only 650 passengers, the Athena is a relaxed and intimate ship and will provide you the opportunity to make friends with your fellow cruisers.The two port stops in Indonesia, Bali and Lombok, will take you a world away with exotic villages and incredible beaches. Bali is a well-known and loved tourist destination, Lombok lesser-known and more untouched. Both will knock your socks off! The cruise stops in at Geraldton, a city in Western Australia, before arriving back in Perth.

Operator: Classic International Cruises
Vessel: Athena
Ports of Call: Perth, Bali, Lombok, Geraldton
Sailing Dates: Departing Wed Jan 2 2013, arriving Sun Jan 13 2013

Cruise Itinerary

Length of cruise: 11 nights

Day 1: Perth, departing Wed Jan 2 14:00
Day 2-4: At sea
Day 5-6: Bali, Sun Jan 6 14:00- Mon Jan 7 23:30
Day 7: Lombok, Tues Jan 8 06:00- 17:00
Day 8-10: At sea
Day 11: Geraldton, 10:00-17:00
Day 12: Perth, arriving Sun Jan 13 10:00

About the Athena:

The Athena is a handsome-looking ship and quite traditional, with a full walk-around deck. Dining has two sittings in the main dining room, or there is a relaxed buffet for eating on your own schedule. Five plush lounges and bars include a show lounge, a nightclub, a cinema and a casino, and there is also a library, card room and internet cafe. Sporting activities are available, as are a pool and sauna. The highlight of the Athena is her small size- with 650 passengers, it is easy to make friends and you will receive attentive and personalised service.

Click here for great deals on the Bali and Lombok Cruise in January 2013!

Roundtrip Hawaii Cruise

Spend a fortnight cruising the islands of Hawaii next January with Princess's Roundtrip Hawaii cruise from Los Angeles. Departing from and returning to Los Angeles, the cruise visits first Hilo, the "big island" of Hawaii. Hugely varied in landscape, and near to the interesting Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park. Next is Honolulu, Hawaii's only major city which offers a wealth of historic, cultural and historic attractions. Excellent surfing beaches also lie beyond the city! Kauai is the fourth largest and oldest island in the group and known as the 'Garden Isle' due to it's lushness of vegetation. The next stop is the island of Maui, where the great warrior King Kamehana made Lahaina his capital city. Maui boasts some of the state's most dramatic landscapes. Before returning to Los Angeles, the cruise calls in at Ensenada, where passengers can enjoy the Mediterranean climate and friendly, colourful atmosphere of Mexico. If you want to see a lot of Hawaii in a period that is less busy and crowded, this is the cruise for you!

by taka_aka_T Flickr Creative Commons

Cruise Operator: Princess
Vessel: Golden Princess
Ports of Call: Los Angeles, Hilo, Honolulu, Kauai, Lahaina, Ensenada.
Sailing Dates: Departing Wed Jan 4 2012, Returning Wed Jan 18 2012

Cruise Itinerary

Total length: 14 nights

Day 1: Los Angeles, departing 16:00 Wed Jan 4 2012
Day 2-5: At sea
Day 6: Hilo- 09:00-18:00 Mon Jan 9 2012
Day 7: Honolulu- 07:00-23:00 Tues Jan 10 2012
Day 8: Kauai- 08:00-17:00 Wed Jan 11 2012
Day 9: Lahaina- 07:00-18:00 Thurs 12 Jan 2012
Day 10-13: At sea
Day 14: Ensenada- 16:00-20:00 Tues, Jan 17 2012
Day 15: Los Angeles, arriving 07:00 Wed Jan 18 2012

About the Golden Princess

The Golden Princess offers the trademark features of a Princess cruise- Movies Under the Stars, Adults-Only Sanctuary, the Crown Grill restaurant. Choose from Traditional, Casual or Anytime Dining, or splash out on a specialty restaurant. Fill your nights with nightclubs, lounges and shows, and your days with pools, spas, sports, classes and boutique shopping. Princess Cruise ships, made famous by 'the Love Boat' series, are an experience in themselves.

 Golden Princess
by Lyn Gateley Flickr Creative Commons

To book a Roundtrip Hawaii cruise at great prices, click here!

L.A to Auckland Cruise in January 2012

Set sail into summer with Seabourn, and make your way into the sunny southern hemisphere in January. This 20-night cruise sprawls across the Pacific from L.A to Auckland, soaking up the sun at many islands along the way. After L.A the first port of call is Nuku Hiva, the largest of the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia.With a harbour formed by the collapse of a volcano's caldera, it is a stunning spot. Next is another island in the Marquesas- Seabourn's small and intimate ships make visiting these more remote spots possible.These stunning islands are amazing for water sports, so take advantage of Seabourn's retractable Water Sports Marina for snorkelling, jetskiing and the like. From there, the cruise sails to Tahiti, where France meets Polynesia, and mountainous interiors contrast with the friendly city of Papeete. Nearby Bora Bora is the next stop, with idyllic beaches and more watersports or relaxation- as you prefer! Rarotonga, next port of call, is an extremely popular holiday destination for it's white sand and amazing lagoons. After Raro, you will cross the international dateline and jump forward a day, then the cruise leaves the tropics and heads Down Under to friendly and laid-back New Zealand, stopping at the Bay of Islands, which is, as the name suggests, a bay filled with islands and opportunities to explore! The cruise finishes in Auckland, New Zealand's largest city on the shores of the sparkling Waitemata Harbour.

 Hiva Oa
by World's landscape Flickr Creative Commons

Lagoon in Rarotonga
by Gregor Ronald Flickr Creative Commons

Cruise Operator: Seabourn
Vessel: Seabourn Odyssey
Ports of Call: Los Angeles, Nuku Hiva, Hiva Oa, Papeete, Bora Bora, Rarotonga, Bay of Islands, Auckland
Sailing Dates: Departing Thurs Jan 5 2012, arriving Thurs Jan 26 2012.

Cruise itinerary

Total length: 20 nights

Day 1: departing LA 17:00 Thurs Jan 5 2012
Day 2-7: at Sea
Day 8: Nuku Hiva- 08:00- 17:00 Thurs Jan 12 2012
Day 9: Hiva Oa- 08:00-17:00 Fri Jan 13 2012
Day 10-11: At sea
Day 12: Papeete- 08:00-18:00 Mon Jan 16 2012
Day 13: Bora Bora- 08:00-18:00 Tues Jan 17 2012
Day 14: At sea
Day 15: Rarotonga- 08:00- 13:00 Thurs Jan 19 2012
Day 16: Cross international dateline
Day 17-20: At sea
Day 21: Bay of Islands- 08:00-18:00 Wed Jan 25 2012
Day 22: Auckland- Arriving 08:00 Thurs Jan 26 2012

About the Seabourn Odyssey

Seabourn is a luxury line- accomodating just 450 guests in 225 suites, the Seabourn Odyssey will amaze. Everything onboard is included, that means alcohol and gratuities, and service is personalised- just ask and your fridge will be stocked with your favourite beverages, or a cold drink will be delivered to you. The staff will come to know your name and your preferences- this is an amazing way to cruise! The ship makes it easy to while away any number of days at sea- there are 4 restaurants, or the option of dining in your suite- again, these are all included in your cruise price. Look out over the deep blue on the observation deck, practice your putting in the Retreat, relax at the Spa, swim in the pool, play in the Card Room, take in a show, lecture, demonstration or movie in the Grand Salon, or chill out on the Sun Terrace. In warm-water destinations, guests can enjoy the Water Sports Marina when anchored- this retractable playground gives guests access to sailing, water-skiing, kayaking, banana boating, and a steel-mesh enclosure for safe swimming.

All in all, a Seabourn cruise is a notch above the big lines- all-inclusive prices, luxurious suites, personal service- unforgettable.

 Seabourn Odyssey
by Sean MacEntee Flickr Creative Commons

To book an LA-Auckland cruise in January 2012, click here!