Quick Navigation: Australian Hotel and Tours | New Zealand Tours | Land Arrangments FAQ
Austrailian Land Prices
For those opting for the 2 night pre-cruise in Sydney beginning Monday, November 28, the Hotel price includes transfers from Sydney Airport to the hotel, 2 nights accommodation with Breakfast each morning, and transfers to the Ship on Wednesday, November 30. The pricing fluctuates, depending on the number of rooms booked, so I'll give you the basic pricing range.
Prices range from $400 per person to $500 per person with all the above inclusions, based on how many rooms are booked. The final pricing for the hotel package will probably be somewhere between. The Sydney Harbor Marriott is the preferred hotel choice, but it has a 10 room minimum, so the Radisson Plaza Hotel and the Amora Jamison are the back up hotels.
Optional Australian Tours
Monday, November 28
Sunset Dinner Cruise, departing Circular Quay
Board the elegant MV Sydney 2000 and discover the magic of Sydney Harbor through the Spring twilight whilst enjoying a premium two course a la carte dinner with wine and beer included. (D) Cost: $90 per person
Tuesday, November 29 - partial day tour options
Bridge Climb - Discovery Climb - daytime
Join your Bridge Climb at No. 3 Cumberland Street, The Rocks. This is the opportunity to climb the world famous Sydney Harbor Bridge. A comprehensive briefing and safety demonstration is conducted as well as being provided with a bridge-suit, communications equipment and a bridge harness that is linked to a static line throughout the climb. Be led by one of Bridge Climb's professional Climb Leaders, on a 3.5 hour guided journey (including preparation and briefing), to the top along the inner arch of the Sydney Harbor Bridge, providing a unique opportunity to explore the inner workings of this amazing structure. See the Bridge up close and hear the stories behind this triumph of engineering. Wind above the Harbor on catwalks, scale the steel heart of this structural masterpiece and emerge to a unique summit experience via a mammoth staircase between the two arches of the Bridge. The steady incline to the summit leaves you free to focus your attention on the surroundings, with the opportunity to witness 360 degree views of Sydney including east to the Sydney Opera House, west to the Blue Mountains and the Harbor city surrounds .Upon conclusion receive a complimentary photograph of your climb group and personalized commemorative climber certificate. Tour concludes at the Bridge Climb office. Cost: $235 per person
- - and/or - -
Taronga Zoo Express - Stay all day or just a few hours
- Roundtrip ferry to Taronga Zoo from Circular Quay or Darling Harbor
- Entry Fee to Taronga Zoo
- Sky Safari cable car
: $55 per person
Tuesday, November 29 - Full day tour options
Hunter Valley Winetaster Tour
At 8:00am join your coach to commence a full day tour to the Hunter Valley, enjoying magnificent views of the Hawkesbury River along the way. See the remains of a convict built road winding into the Hunter Valley and stroll around historic Wollombi Village. The Hunter Valley is the home to Australia's oldest wine producing region and owes its fame to world class viticulturalists and fertile soils. Enjoy a private wine tasting experience at Lindeman's, followed by a visit to Hunter Resort for a presentation on how the winery operates. Lunch is accompanied by chosen wines - your two-course lunch will be complimented with specially chosen wines. The opportunity may be had to visit Bluetongue Brewery, home of the Bluetongue Beer and perhaps try a tasting paddle of the available varieties (own expense). Further tastings include a visit to Oakvale Winery before the last stop at Hunter Valley Gardens, a quaint little township within the Hunter Valley. Free time is available to explore the many hidden delights in the garden village. Opportunity may be had to try further tastings at the Hunter Valley Cellars. After departing Hunter Valley Gardens head back to Sydney via Freeman's Waterhole and the Expressway. Tour concludes at approximately 6:15pm, at which time you will be dropped off at the hotel. Cost: $175 per person
Blue Mountains and Australian Wildlife tour
An Australian Pacific Touring Coach will pick you up from your hotel to take you to the Coach Interchange transfer point at Pirrama Road Star City where you will transfer to the proper coach for the tour. The tour commences at 8:15am when you depart for a full day tour to the Blue Mountains. Travel past Homebush Bay, site of the 2000 Olympics before arriving at Leura village, with its delightful blend of groomed gardens and quaint ships. Enjoy some free time to wander the streets of Leura. Next visit Echo Point to see the famous Three Sisters rock formation and hear the ancient Aboriginal legends of this impressive rock formation. Arrive at Scenic World and join the Blue Mountain rides - Scenic Railway, Cableway or Skyway (own expense). These rides are a great way to see the steep valleys, canyons and Three Sisters rock formation. Enjoy a two-course buffet lunch at Scenic World. Travel to Narrowneck and Cahill Lookouts for a short stop for impressive mountain scenery. Next enjoy an afternoon encounter at Featherdale Wildlife Park and have your photo taken with a cuddly koala, see kangaroos, wombats, dingoes and little fairy penguins. Last stop will be at Homebush Bay where you have the opportunity to catch the rivercat ferry back to Sydney and enjoy a relaxing cruise along the Parramatta River (own expense). If you do not wish to catch the ferry, the coach will continue back to Sydney where the tour will conclude at approximately 5:45pm, at which time you will be dropped off at your hotel. Cost: $150 per person
Optional New Zealand Tours
Wednesday, December 7 - Full day tour
The ship will dock in the Port of Lyttleton, where we will be met by Red Carpet tours and board a coach, which will transport us to the filming location for Edoras. We will first stop off at a bakery cafe in Christchurch to pick up lunch items, at your own cost, before we head out of town. Lunch will be eaten picnic style on top of Mt. Sunday (Edoras) after crossing 3 rivers and climbing up the hillside. Cost includes motor-coach roundtrip, guiding and the entrance to the Mt. Potts area. One note, the Port of Lyttleton was damaged in the February earthquake and is under repair now. There is a slight possibility that this could affect our ship's ability to dock here, which would then mean not being able to make it to this excursion. A final determination will be made before the cruise or tour move into the penalty phase. Cost: $180 per person
Thursday, December 8 - Full day tour
The schedule for today will be in flux almost until we arrive, simply because it will involve a visit with WETA, who will be busy making the movies and will be fitting us into their schedule. I can tell you that we will be met and picked up at the pier by a coach and driven into town. There will be a visit to the WETA Cave where you can see their demo reel, shop for collectibles and then go for lunch, which will be included today. A variety of other really cool activities have been bandied about, but the details are not ready to be shared just yet. On the first Cruise to Middle-earth, our visit with WETA included a tour of the studio, a discussion with Gino Acevedo, who was actually working on Avatar at the time, another discussion with both Richard Taylor and Daniel Falconer and then lunch at a local restaurant with both Richard and Daniel. So, while we may not know the details yet, I can assure you that WETA will do their utmost to show us a good time. The pricing variance is based both on what the activities actually are determined to be, as well as the number of people affecting the per-person cost. Cost: $345-$400 per person
Saturday, December 10 - Full day tour
Tauranga - Hobbiton
This shore excursion includes a motor-coach transport from the port to Matamata, roundtrip, guiding, entry fee, possible sheep shearing demonstration and a BBQ lunch at the Shire's Rest. This is a trip to the Hobbiton set where the films begin and end. With the filming of the Hobbit underway, the previously existing hobbit holes have been rebuilt and fortified. The Party Tree still stands sentinel by the lake, completing the near perfection this location holds in resembling its literary inspiration. I must add the caveat that The Hobbit's filming schedule might require the use of this location at the time our ship would bring us here, effectively closing it to the public. Again, a final determination on this will be made before any penalties take effect. Cost: $180 per person
Monday, December 12 to December 15 - 4 day tour
Auckland to Queenstown and return
- December 12 - Transfer from the ship in Auckland to the airport for a flight to Queenstown. This will result in a free evening to settle into the hotel and find dinner on your own.
- December 13 - Morning trip to Poolburn (Rohan grasslands); lunch at a winery, visit to Bungee Bridge followed by Arrowtown.
- December 14 - Optional activities such as Dart Stables, Nomad Safaris, Shotover Jet boat, Helicopter trip or a walk on the Routeburn track. That night a farewell dinner at the Skyline Restaurant.
- December 15 - Tour ends after breakfast. Folk to arrange activities from then - stay on, fly out, extend tour, up to you each.
The cost of this extension includes airfare to Queenstown, 3 nights accommodation, all breakfasts and one dinner, visit to Poolburn, coach and guiding, as well the lunch at the Winery (food only, wine is an extra cost). Cost
: $1345 single, $1115 per person double
Land Arrangements FAQ
The cruise begins on Wednesday, November 30. With the two days required to travel to Australia, you will need to depart on Monday, November 28. Since that is just after the Thanksgiving weekend, I recommend leaving earlier and having time to explore Sydney before boarding the ship and departing Australia. I've arranged some optional tours given a 2 day lead time, leaving the US on Saturday, November 26, arriving on the Monday and having nearly 2 full days to tour Sydney and the surrounding area.
With start and finish dates now confirmed, we can now start to look at air pricing. Read through all the options to decide if you are going to add the Pre and/or Post trips, figure out if you are going to customize some additional activities yourself, and then give me a call to get you a flight quote. With air, once you find what you like, you will want to purchase it immediately, to lock in the pricing. So make sure you've firmed up your schedule. Also, ask me about Travel Insurance at this point because parts of your trip will begin to be non-refundable, depending on what class of service you purchase when getting your air.
And finally, regarding the land tours and hotel in Australia, you will want to pay by check. This is to save you money, because there is a credit card service fee of 4%. Because these vendors are in Australia and New Zealand, we have to send funds down in their local currency, so we will have to charge a 'one time' fee of $10 per person to cover the Foreign Currency Exchange transaction. This fee seemed to be the most cost effective, versus the 4% credit card fee.