Just this past Friday night, I arrived back home after a back-to-back cruise exploring Australia and New Zealand on Silver Shadow. The two voyages spanned 33 nights, and visited more than a dozen destinations Down Under.
Highlights of the cruise:
There were many more highlights, some portrayed in the photos and videos below.
A couple of things remain with me days after returning. One is that cruising is a value-oriented way to take the dive Down Under. Australia has become quite pricey since I was last there in the 1990s. Dinners can easily set you back more than $100. Lunch wasn’t cheap either. A simple kebab platter could cost as much as $20 with a beverage. I didn’t price hotels or airfares for getting around, but it’s a safe bet that cruising can save you a bundle Down Under.
Another thing that remained with me was that Australia and New Zealand were refreshing changes of pace. They reminded me of America without the hustle and bustle and constant breathlessness. Down Under, there’s time to breathe.
Here are a few more highlights from the cruise in photos and videos.
Watch Silver Shadow’s Sail Away From Sydney. Or to read more, click on the links below:
I joined a shore excursion in Melbourne that took me out to the Yarra Valley, where I sampled wines and saw koalas and got to ride on a steam engine. Check out this feature video: Cuddly Koalas, Kangaroos & A Steam Engine Ride On A Silversea Shore Excursion.
There’s a lot more to Tasmania than Tasmanian Devils, but alas, that is what many of us wanted to see when Silver Shadow called in Hobart. I joined a fun, full-day shore excursion, highlighted in this video: Kissing Tasmanian Devils, Hand-Feeding Koalas & Kangaroos, On A Silversea Shore Excursion
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Silver Shadow’s first contact with New Zealand (on our voyage from Tasmania) was Milford Sound, which was weepy and misty when we visited, just as it should have been perhaps. On the voyage before ours, Milford Sound was bathed in sunlight, according to crew members. I had seen Milford Sound in sunlight more than two decades ago. Misty or sunny, Milford Sound is certainly one of the most beautiful spots on the planet.
On the morning Silver Shadow arrived in Dunedin, I saw something unusual from my balcony: a train. Along with many others from the ship, I stepped from the gangway to board the train for a half-day journey along the rails into gorgeous countryside. Check it out in the video Silver Shadow Shore Excursion From Dunedin, New Zealand, The Taieri Train Gorge Railway
I thought Akaroa was a hidden gym, but then I learned that the day before, two vessels, one large, the other small, had spewed out a couple thousand passengers on this village. Silver Shadow courted Akaroa alone on the day we anchored in a beautiful bay with a green, mountainous backdrop.
Akaroa is a French-inspired town, though when I stepped ashore, there was little doubt that I was in New Zealand and not Saint Tropez. Still, I got a “joie de vivre” feeling strolling along the waterfront.
Tauranga was absolutely stunning on Silver Shadow’s approach. The ship glided past iconic Mauao (Mount Maunganui) to dock on the waterfront, where many of us boarded a bus for Rotorua. Seeing the Maori culture and experiencing the geothermal hotbed in Rotorua was a treat, but I wish we would have had more time in Tauranga. I certainly wouldn’t mind returning one day.
Check out the video: From Silver Shadow In Tauranga: Touring New Zealand’s ‘Geothermal Wonderland’
Although the city of Auckland was only a few steps away, I spent most of the day in the Hilton beside Silver Shadow, catching up with home, work and using broadband. Still, I enjoyed the approach and sail-away, even if catching up prevailed, and I had to spend the day “in the office.”
I visited Napier twice on Silver Shadow. On the first call, I joined an excellent shore excursion to the Mission Estate Winery. Check out the video Silver Shadow Shore Excursion In New Zealand: Mission Estate Winery Tour, Tasting & Lunch.
On the second visit, I hung out in Napier, a beautiful city that bills itself as the Art Deco Capital of the World. I spent the day wandering around the city center, stopping into the Art Deco center and even found time for a run along an extended boardwalk. Read more about Napier, Stuck In Time: Silver Shadow Calls On The Self-Proclaimed Art Deco Capital Of The World, Napier, New Zealand
Windy Wellington greeted Silver Shadow with warm, partly sunny weather, which made for the right conditions for our Seal Safari. Our trip in four-wheel drive vehicles took us for a brief tour of the city center, before heading up for a view of the city and harbor. After a brief stop for photographs, we headed over the mountain and along a remote seashore — it felt remote although it was only a short drive from Wellington. See the video: Silver Shadow Docks In Wellington, New Zealand: Scouting Seals On A Coastal Safari
Silver Shadow departed Wellington late at night under a full moon. The sail-away was absolutely stunning. Next stop, South Island.
I visited Picton twice on Silver Shadow. Picton is a charming pint-sized town on the South Island of New Zealand. I was impressed by the flower ladies who greeted us, giving passengers small flowers that the ladies grew in their gardens.
Three of us rented bicycles on the waterfront for a one-hour ride, each way, to Karaka Point Historic Reserve, an old Maori settlement. Check out the video of our Mountain Bike Ride In Picton.
Though New Zealand had been cloudy for most of our visit, the sun broke through during the final hours of our stay, making for a gorgeous sail-away.
We crossed the Tasman Sea, three days, from Picton to Sydney, then cruised to Melbourne, followed by Adelaide, where I spent time, again, at a Hilton hotel sucking up broadband internet. Our next stop, Port Lincoln, where we would go swimming in a region known for its Great White Sharks.
Port Lincoln gave me one of the most memorable shore excursions I’ve done: Swimming with the Tunas. Check out the full post here: Swimming With The Tuna Where Great White Sharks Lurk On A Silversea Shore Excursion
Although Albany was cute, we got out of town for a nature cruise. The highlight of the excursion: pelicans. It was fun to watch these amusing creatures and to learn more about them. Check out: On Silver Shadow Down Under: Feature Video, Feeding Pelicans
Our cruise ended in Freemantle, the port for Perth. I saw Perth quickly, departing the same evening I arrived for a long journey home, ever grateful to Silver Shadow for showing me Down Under, Silversea style.
There would be one more lasting impression. At the airport, the Australian equivalent of a TSA officer noted that one of the liquids in my carry-on was a tad over the limit. He wasn’t acting strictly within guidelines when he examined the liquid (it was toothpaste), said “No worries mate,” and motioned me through. Australia is still an innocent nation, I thought, a nation where common sense is still common.
Twenty-plus hours later, I joined the masses at LAX, removing my shoes, my belt, my laptop, and my liquids and watched as a TSA officer tossed my tube of toothpaste into a large trash bin. I missed Australia already.