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!