Expat Magazine

Our Australia and New Zealand Cruise Adventure

By Floridagirlinsydney
We got off the plane and collected our luggage at the Sydney Airport International Terminal.   Our discombobulated family of four approached the Australian Customs x-ray area; our two-week long Australia/ New Zealand cruise holiday was really over.
The customs officer asked the usual questions.  "Are you carrying any fruit or nuts?  Any plants or meat products?".  And we confidently responded, "No, no, and no."  Then from behind me, I hear my seven-year old's little raspy voice say, "We're not going to get caught again, are we mom?"
And I could just imagine his outburst leading to the camera crew of Aussie TV show Border Security swooping down on us,  as it was only a few hours earlier (approximately 4:30am) that we had a small fiasco in the Auckland Airport.   Our seven-year old's Thomas the Train rolling carry-on bag was pulled for "additional security screening"-- you know, where they place the suspicious bag in a mysterious machine, that I'm assuming detects explosives and other really bad things.
And when they found the bottle of Little Noses saline spray stuffed in with Jack the Bunny, the thought occurred to me that I probably should have actually monitored what they put in their carry-on bags - which they were both allowed to pack without parental supervision.  This rings especially true after boarding the ship in Sydney, unzipping the luggage and finding that somehow my five year old had crammed his massively fluffy tiger costume in his carry-on, along with a wide array of blankies and stuffed animals.
Needless to say, our cruise on the Diamond Princess was awesome.
Our Australia and New Zealand Cruise Adventure
Sailing out of Sydney Harbour at sunset.
 Shuffleboard the first day at sea, Ollie is the tiger.
 It wouldn't be a cruise without shuffleboard in a tiger suit, now would it?
Our first stop was Melbourne, Australia.  Within ten minutes of meeting our tour guide, we decided we'd be better off without him; what kind of tour guide asks where we want to go-- I've never been here before, how would I know? 
So we went off on our own...
Melbourne, Australia.
And wondered around aimlessly until we finally met our friends for a lunch date.
Our Australia and New Zealand Cruise Adventure
For lunch we met up with our fabulous American friends who used to live in Sydney.  And by fabulous, we're talking the kind of mom who cuts her kids' hair all cool and funky, and at the same time with her other hand she makes stuff like this.  For weeks now I've been trying to teach my kids the proper use of "air quotes"-- here my girl Nat is helping the cause.
Hobart, Tasmania was our second stop.  I could totally live there-- loved it!
 Our Australia and New Zealand Cruise Adventure
Though I would probably try and avoid these cute but not so cuddly guys...
 Our Australia and New Zealand Cruise Adventure
Tasmanian Devil with a bad attitude at the Bonorong Wildlife Reserve.
I think this little wallaby friend quickly responded to the mating call sounds my five year-old animal whisperer was making... apparently she or he was looking for some action.
Our Australia and New Zealand Cruise Adventure
By the way, we took a tour with Great Expeditions-- Michael (above) was our guide for the day, and if ever in Hobart, Tasmania I'd highly recommend you hook up with him, he made Hobart one of the highlights of our trip.
Next we hit Milford Sound Fjordland.  These were taken from our cruise ship balcony.
Our Australia and New Zealand Cruise Adventure
Our Australia and New Zealand Cruise Adventure
Me and a fjord in reflection.
Dunedin, New Zealand was gorgeous!  Rolling hills sprinkled with sheep and bicyclists and playgrounds.  We had big, big plans for this day, first stop- The Cadbury Chocolate Factory.
Our Australia and New Zealand Cruise Adventure
Unfortunately, after we got the kids all jacked-up on sugar, it seemed the windy, mountainous roads were a little too much, and an eruption (literally) of carsickness sent us heading back to the ship.  We did however hit another playground before "the incident" and New Zealand playgrounds are so nice they're worth showing off.
Pre-vomit playground: (I'm sparing you the clothing-covered-with-vomit second playground photos... you're welcome:).
 Our Australia and New Zealand Cruise Adventure
Our Australia and New Zealand Cruise Adventure
Christchurch, New Zealand was reminiscent of Victoria, Canada-- gorgeous flower lined streets, friendly people, and all-around nice nice nice.
Our Australia and New Zealand Cruise Adventure
My kids in front of the Harley building (incidentally our seven year-old's middle name) learning the fine art of making someone laugh to get a photo smile.
Oliver the Dog Whisperer finds the first dog to pose with on our trip-- more are coming.
More "Dogs Around the World."  Yes my child wears Crocs with socks-- international tourist extraordinaire. 
Taraunga/ Rotorua, New Zealand was like the Daytona Beach of New Zealand, party city.  One lesson I learned during this trip was that the islands of New Zealand were formed by an erupted volcano, and this was evident throughout our trip as we visited beached covered in lava rocks and black speckled sand that was hot as hell.
This is the beach that faces the Pacific Ocean, there was a rad party happening on our day there.
Benji and our ship.
This is the inner harbor beach in Tauranga, with our ship, the Diamond Princess, in the background. 
During the cruise we had six days at sea.  Back in the day (when my husband and I were in the cruise business) we sailed as on the QE2  from New York to London, and six days at sea meant a whole lot of "afternoon tea", bingo, and cocktails. 
Our Australia and New Zealand Cruise Adventure
 On Cunard's QE2 in about 1995, we had probably been dating about a year.
 Our Australia and New Zealand Cruise Adventure
Sitting on the deck of the QE2 in the good ole days with my dear friend Rochelle.  Rochelle passed away last month from breast cancer, she was one of those people who everyone adored, and she will be missed by her many, many friends.
Now this may sound ridiculous, but my husband and I have each been on over 100 cruises.   And we have had lots of "days at sea"... but cruising with 5 & 7 year old boys puts a whole new dimension to the whole thing.
Our Australia and New Zealand Cruise Adventure
Pseudo- room service.  That means, Daddy goes to the buffet, loads up plates of food, and comes back to the room hoping we're happy with his chosen assortment... by the way, we always were.
Brotherly love at sea.
And did I mention there was a talent show? Warning: The Cruiseship Talent Show video below, may be absolutely hilarious-- or could potentially lead to a spontaneous narcolepsy attack; I cannot objectively determine which, you may or may not want to actually watch it.  Oh guess what, after TWO HOURS of trying to upload the video-- blogger says there's an error.  Y'all lucked out on that one.
We had New Years Eve on the open sea, an evening which for most passengers involved seeing balloons dropped from the top of the ship's atrium lobby, and lots of cocktails and champagne.
And you know you're on a cruise ship for New Years when:
Sneak peek at NYE buffet items.
For us, New Years Eve was incredibly exciting-- days earlier, we had told our seven year-old that if his tooth (which had been loose for a over a year) was out by midnight 12/31/2010 (or if you're in Australia that's 31/12/2010), then the tooth fairy would quadruple the going rate AND he'd get a sip of real champagne at midnight.
Our Australia and New Zealand Cruise Adventure
Oh yes he did!  Too funny.  We spent last year's holiday season similarly over-toothy and then, toothless.
So that was our big trip, which had been preceded by months of nonstop visitors from the U.S., including my in-laws, my wonderful friend Shelby who owns this company, and my mom.  And now here I sit, no more houseguests and vacation complete.  There are three more weeks left of school vacation here, I've begun my next project--  convincing my husband we should get another puppy this year. 
Ruby the Labradoodle, stayed at her friend Jaffa the Smokin' Hot Labradoodle's house while we were away.  She's been moping around the house for a week now that she's back to her boring life...  I'd say she really needs a friend.  But hey, it's not all bad... we did celebrate her 1st birthday last week, and she does live quite the posh doggy life-- though I am quite sure she'd be ecstatic if she had a new doggy roommate.
Our Australia and New Zealand Cruise Adventure
So that's pretty much the last few months in a nutshell-- though I do have a secret...
There's a really funny video from our cruise that's been omitted from this post, it's of my husband and I in an elevator after a couple of drinks, cracking up, and swearing at each other... but I have to leave something to your imaginations...  though I am considering adding it to this post... hmmm, should I-- or should I not?

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