It has been months in the making and is almost here, 2 days from now we will start our journey from Huntsville to Chicago on to Los Angeles and finally to Sydney. Our flight leaves Huntsville at 7:20 am Wednesday, the 11th and arrives in Sydney at 6:30 am Friday, the 13th. Total flight time is 21 hours but when you add in a 10 hour layover in Los Angeles and crossing the dateline to miss a day it will make for a VERY long trip!
I am a little obsessive with planning, Lance is a little obsessive with packing so it all comes together quite well. Since booking our Sydney to San Francisco cruise on the Sea Princess we have been researching and preparing in order to make the most of this wonderful trip. Flights were booked first using Frequent Flyer miles with British Airways – once the flights and cruise were in place we could focus on individual ports to plan.
First up of course, is Sydney – we are only there two days so will try to make the most of it. Hopefully we can sleep on the plane on the way over and the plan is to stay up that day and get an overview of the city. We’ll take our bags to the hotel and head toward the main part of town where free walking tours are offered, later that evening we have booked tickets to do the bridge climb of Sydney Harbour Bridge – a little scary, but how can you go to Sydney and not climb the bridge??!! The following day we are booked on a Blue Mountains tour that will allow us to see a little bit of the countryside away from Sydney – we will go to the Blue Mountains as well as a wildlife park to see koalas, wallabies, and all of those other cute Australian critters!
After boarding the ship, our first stops will be in New Zealand beginning with touring of the Fiordlands National Park, it is supposed to be incredibly scenic and we are looking forward to seeing them. We leave the ship for an overnight trip to Queenstown, viewing the magnificent New Zealand scenery along the way including some bungee jumping sites (no, we aren’t), viewing the southern Alps, and through historic gold mining country. Hopefully, weather and time permitting we are planning on taking a jet boat adventure through the narrow canyons and gorges near Queenstown. Other New Zealand stops include Akaroa and Auckland where we can view penguins, dolphins, and some quaint harbor towns. Originally we were supposed to stop at ChristChurch but due to the earthquake damage changes had to be made to the itinerary.
After leaving New Zealand we are at sea for a few days before arriving in Suva, Fiji where we are joining others from our ship for a tour including river canoeing, a village tour, bamboo rafting and more. Next is Pago Pago in American Samoa and we have also signed up to join with others from our ship for a tour of the island including a stop at Tisa’s Barefoot Bar which is known to be a local highlight. Our most anticipated tour is in Bora Bora where we will tour the island and ride in outrigger canoes for some snorkeling then enjoy a typical Polynesian feast on a private island while seated in the water!
There are two more stops in Polynesia – Papeete and Moorea. These two islands are very close to each other so we have planned something very exciting – after arriving in Papeete we will leave the ship and travel to Moorea on our own by ferry and spend the night in an overwater bungalow – isn’t that everyone’s dream vacation?! We are incredibly excited about this and just can’t wait! the following morning the ship will arrive in Moorea and we will reboard that afternoon to begin the journey to Hawaii.
Following a few more sea days, we will make our way to Honolulu. Having been there a couple of times before, we know how much we enjoy the area and what we wanted to see so we have booked a small group tour to make a circle around the island. Next we go to Maui where we plan on enjoying the town of Lahaina before heading across the Pacific to our final destination of San Francisco.
Lance and I haven’t been to San Francisco before so we decided to spend the night there before coming home. One last tour is booked that will give us an overview of the city, take us to Muir Woods to see the amazing redwood trees, and give us time to visit Sausalito. Our flight leaves the next morning, returning us to Huntsville on May 14 – hopefully exhausted but full of great memories.
As I mentioned, a lot of planning and preparation has gone into this trip so I thought I’d share some pre-cruise planning/packing pictures…
We will try to post as much as possible while we are gone but when and how is uncertain. If lucky, we can upload a picture or two but it will depend on internet availability and connections. This trip has been highly anticipated, we are looking forward to this new adventure!