Dunedin to Sydney - via a cruise!
I've never cruised before so being offered the chance to join Holland America Line from Dunedin to Sydney on MS Noordam was like a dream come true. After a quick discussion with the boss, I registered my interest & was soon confirmed. Now all that was left to do was look forward to the fast approaching boarding day.
On boarding at Port of Otago, Dunedin, I was impressed with the painless process of check-in before heading off to the lift with suitcase in tow up to my 5th floor Veranda stateroom. A quick look around was followed by one of the many joys of cruising - I unpacked my suitcase & put it away under the bed not to be touched again until I disembarked.
It was then off to explore the ship & see what my surroundings were like for the next 8 days.
'Magnificent' and 'Beautiful' was my 1st impression & by the end of the 8th day, these sentiments remained very much the same. MS Noordam is a gorgeous ship that's well laid out, easy to get around & the friendly staff made it all the more enjoyable.
As we set sail from Otago Harbour, I joined a few other agents for drinks in the Crows Nest as we headed towards Foveaux Strait for the 1st night. I’ve slept on small boats in the past but nothing of this size (almost 1900 passengers) so I was particularly eager to see how much we rocked & rolled around Foveaux Strait. I'm here to tell you it was pretty smooth sailing as we headed around Puysegur Point & up the west coast of NZ around Resolution Island in Dusky Sound & off to Doubtful & Thompson Sound as we rounded Secretary Island then headed further North & into Milford Sound.
Milford Sound was at its absolute stunning best for us with low cloud lifting as we entered the sound & a slight drizzle making the waterfalls magnificent. I’ve been lucky enough to have seen quite a bit of this part of the world as a recreational fisherman with my family, but every time I go back, I'm in awe of the natural beauty of this area & always find something completely different to admire about these places. (On a personal note - I feel so privileged to live in NZ & know that these places are on our doorstep.)
As we sailed away from NZ & into our 1st night on the Tasman, the Captain advised of a storm so the following night & day was pretty cold on deck so I spent most of the time indoors. We found the storm (or it found us) the following night as we headed straight into it to make Hobart. I was very happy to see them shores of Hobart after a rough night.... and what a city it is!!! Vibrant, cool, chic, modern, but still with the old buildings. It's officially one of my favourite cities in Australia now and I'm well sold on it as a destination for my clients.
A stroll through the Salamanaca markets before a walk up Battery Point was well worth it, with old & quaint cottage style housing. An afternoon excursion up Mt Wellington was stunning with the views of Hobart & the greater Tasmania.
The next 36 hours was smooth sailing across Bass Strait towards Melbourne. On arrival in Melbourne, first stop for me was to grab a Myke Card (public transport card) before heading off to the city. I wandered the streets, stopped outside Flinders Station to check that my time matched their many clocks & pleased to see I was defo on Melbourne time, made my way to lunch with a good friend that ran well into the afternoon.
I caught the tram back to the Port & boarded the ship again for the next day & night at sea. On arrival into Sydney at White Bay (nothing there to see but a Cruise Dock!), I caught the ferry into Circular Quay, but with it being Good Friday almost all shops were closed - although we did manage to find a small café and enjoyed a long brunch until it was time to head to the airport to fly back to NZ.
It was officially the end of my cruise.
From the casino to the gym, to the daily trivia, karaoke, musical shows, ventriloquist shows, BB Kings Blues Bar, spa treatments, healthy eating seminars, Piano Bar & Duty Free shopping on-board, I tried to do something different every day. The shows at night were simply fantastic, the BB King Blues/Jazz Band magnificent & as I reflect on the lifestyle that is 'cruising', I’m quite taken with it to be honest and sum it up like this:
Unpack once, step out onto your balcony & see the world while you enjoy all the delights of whole countries worth of entertainment while travelling from one place to the next.
If you've not tried a cruise yet - please do give it a go.... you'll be a convert just like me!