In August 2014, the Holland America Blog asked fans to choose their top “Bucket List” ports around the world. Number one on the list? Sydney, Australia! Travelers around the globe are attracted to Australia and New Zealand for the region’s unique beauty, interesting culture and vast array of things to see and do.
From cosmopolitan cities like Auckland and Sydney to the bottomless fiords of Milford Sound, a cruise down under is ideal for all ages and interests. There are so many reasons to add an Australia and New Zealand cruise to your travel bucket list. If you have not yet done so, read on for a few reasons why you should!
YOU DON’T HAVE TO CHOOSE WHEN YOU CRUISE!
On a visit to Australia everyone wants to seek the sights at Sydney, but the outback is equally spectacular! A cruise is the best way to explore the different features of Australia, while traveling in total comfort. Holland America Line’s 33-day Australia Circumnavigation cruises roundtrip from Sydney, giving guests the full spectrum of the land Down Under! From the iconic Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, to the beautiful natural scenery of western Australia and on to Tasmania, affectionately called “Tiny Tassie” by the locals, you can see it all. One thing to consider, however, is that cruising is increasing in popularity among Australian holiday-seekers, and guests are encouraged to book early as the Australia Circumnavigation is a great option for locals and foreign travelers alike.
TWO WORDS: MILFORD SOUND.
Located in the southwest of New Zealand’s South Island, Fiordland National Park is an incredible natural treasure of New Zealand, and of the world. Milford Sound — the best known of all the fjords in the park — remains quiet and still, bounded by steep cliffs and dense rainforest. Two waterfalls are constant, and abundant rainfall produces many more. The Maori are believed to have discovered the majesty of Milford Sound more than 1,000 years ago, and the beauty of the area is rife with legend.
Many of Holland America Line’s cruises to New Zealand spend time exploring Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park, including Noordam’s 39-day South Pacific/New Zealand Collectors’ Voyage.
KOALAS AND KANGAROOS
Koalas and Kangaroos are both indigenous to Australia, and neither animal exists in the wild anywhere else in the world! In fact, more than 80 percent of Australia’s plants, mammals, reptiles and frogs are unique to the continent. In addition to koalas and kangaroos, the echidna, dingo, platypus, wallaby and wombat are native Aussies. If it’s wildlife you’re after there are plenty of great options to check it out as you make your way around Australia. At Melbourne In the Wild! Kangaroos & Koalas comes highly recommended by a former HAL cruiser Jeff, who said:
“This shore excursion was outstanding! Seeing these wonderful animals in the wild was one of the most memorable events on our cruise. Although the koalas are not very active, it was amazing to see them high in the trees of their choosing and to learn how selective they are about what they eat. The kangaroos, on the other hand, kept moving just ahead of us for about half an hour after we found them.”
ULURU — THE GREAT GLOWING ROCK
Rising out of what seems like nowhere in the red center of Australia is Ayers Rock, also known as Uluru, its Aboriginal name. The dome shaped red rock is one of the most impressive and iconic sights in Australia and is known especially for the remarkable way that it glows and shifts colors as the sun rises and sets in the center of the plain. It’s hard to describe the true magnitude of the rock. To put it in perspective, at 348 meters the mass is taller than the Eiffel Tower, and many times wider. It takes about 3 1/2 hours to walk around Ayers Rock. A 5-night pre- or post-cruise tour package gives guests ample time to explore the area.
THE GREAT BARRIER REEF
You might have heard that The Great Barrier Reef is the only living thing that can be seen from space, but did you know that it is greater in size than the United Kingdom, Holland and Switzerland combined? The reef is an ancient, enormous host of living things, composed of living coral growing on dead coral dating back as much as 20 million years. Cairns is the gateway to this incredible feature, and guests can visit on a shore excursion from this port, or enjoy the sights of the UNESCO World Heritage Site from the comfort of a balcony or deck as the ship sails by.
YOU CAN VISIT THE SHIRE
If you think the spectacular scenery of Australia and New Zealand seems like something out of a fantasy, you’re not alone. The incredible topography was the ideal setting for the Lord of the Rings films. Fans of literature and film flock to the otherworldly setting of “the Shire” at Akaroa (Christchurch), New Zealand, on cruises to the region. Guest Kelley visited and said:
“If you are a LOTR fan, just sign up for this. This was the most beautiful and magical place we have ever been. Also we had Michael Ellsworthe who appeared in the film in a couple of minor roles join us on the bus to read from the book. The valley location was just fabulous with snow covered mountains in the distance. The trip was very well orchestrated with the appropriate number of stops. We loved this day and would recommend it to anyone given the spectacular scenery.”
You don’t have to be a fan of the movies to enjoy this tour — the setting is magical, whether Middle Earth is on your bucket list or not!
WINE AND DINE
Australia and New Zealand are known for some of the most outstanding wines in the world. From full-bodied juicy Shirazes to oceanic Sauvignon Blancs, wines from the region are known the world over. Wine is produced all over Australia and New Zealand, and the region is the fourth largest wine exporting nation behind Italy, France and Spain. When cruising there you can visit a variety of vineyards — from the family-owned Dudley Winery at Kangaroo Island to the award-winning Rochford Winery outside Melbourne, the site for Wine and Wildlife.
BOOK NOW WITH SEAS THE DAY PROMOTION
The above reasons aren’t the only ones to visit Down Under. Beyond these iconic sights and experiences, Australia and New Zealand feature more gorgeous cities like Auckland, Brisbane and Perth; Blue Mountains National Park, a mesmerizing UNESCO World Heritage Site just miles from Sydney; Kakadu National Park, a huge pristine sweep of aboriginal land teeming with crocodiles, water buffalo and cave paintings that date back 20,000 years; and so much more! There’s an abundance to see and do in this incredible region, and a cruise is the best and easiest way to ensure a diverse and complete experience.
And with Holland America Line’s Seas the Day promotion that currently is on offer, now is the ideal time to book a dream vacation to Australia and New Zealand. Guests who book with Seas the Day can go for as low at $1,399 per person, double occupancy, on a 12-day Pacific Treasures voyage while also getting an onboard credit (voyages 19 days or less receive up to $100 per person and voyages 20 days or more receive up to $200 per person) and reduced cruise fares for 3rd/4th guests so the whole family can go.
Remember, you can pre-book shore excursions to save time onboard and guarantee you get your desired tour!
Is a cruise to Australia and New Zealand on your Travel Bucket List? Let us know in the comments!