Sydney and South Pacific: Here We Come!

sydney

We wanted to take a cruise that would take us to some the the most fascinating and romantic places on earth for our 20th wedding anniversary.We think we have found the perfect way to celebrate this milestone with an 18 day Celebrity Solstice cruise from Sydney to Honolulu with stops in French Polynesia in April  of  2013.

Selecting the Cruise

In August, I noticed that one of my online cruise friends had this cruise listed as one of her future cruises. We chatted about it and I went to the Celebrity Website to research the details. When I saw the itinerary, all I had to do was convince my husband. The first thing he wanted me to look into was the number of frequent flyer miles that we had and the number we would need to fly to Sydney. Second, I had to get tentative buy-in from my parents and my husband’s mother to come and stay with our teenagers during the trip.  So having confirmed we had enough miles to fly, even enough for business class tickets, and having confirmed that we would have adult supervision for our kids, we worked on selecting a cabin and booking the cruise. Once again I worked with my travel agent, Sky Scraper tours to book this cruise. I like utilizing them because of their expertise in the cruise industry.

Bucket List Destinations

The exotic itinerary will present us with many “first” and allow us to check off some items on on “Bucket List”. The cruise begins in Sydney, and whether we spend just 1 day or several days there, we will be able to experience two big attractions, the Opera House and Harbor Bridge, with out even making an much of an effort. The cruise terminal is located between these two architectural and engineering icons so even if time doesn’t permit our visiting either one of them, we’ll get great views of them as the ship departs. Depending on our length of stay in Australia, we also would like to visit wine country, see some of the other attractions in Sydney, and hopefully get a chance to see some of the unique fauna like Kangaroos and Koalas. From Sydney the ship heads out across the South Pacific, first stopping in New Caledonia. Then after four days at sea and crossing the international dateline at sea(a first), the ship will visit our most anticipated destination, French Polynesia. The ship will make stops in Tahiti, Morea, and Bora Bora. Following those stops, we begin another streak of 5 days at sea as we cross the Equator(another first) and head towards Hawaii. The relaxed pace of sea days, ship board activities, and endless horizon on sea days make them our favorite part of cruising. On the second to last day of the cruise, the ship spends all day in Maui. I would love to spend the day taking the road to Hana, another bucket list item. The final destination for this cruise is Honolulu, where we hope to spend another few days at one of the resort hotels.

Pricing

The pricing on this cruise was actually pretty reasonable considering the length of cruise and exotic ports. The current list pricing for inside cabins on this itinerary is $1979.99 per person, which works out to just under $110 per person per day. That is the base price to which you would need to add taxes, fees, gratuities and excursions. When we booked in August we selected a 1A Veranda Cabin in a spot on the ship that gave it a slightly larger balcony area. However, I learned online of a state residency special on Saturday, called my agent, and upgraded to a C3, Concierge Class balcony cabin, for $500 less than my original price. The concierge class cabins have a few special extras like upgraded bath robes and shower heads and fresh fruit, hours’dourves and flowers in the rooms, but the cabins really aren’t any different in configuration from the 1A that we had previously booked. The little extras don’t really make that much difference, so if they were the same price I would probably prefer my original cabin with the slightly bigger balcony. However for the lower price it was worth the cabin change. For my new “upgraded” cabin, I selected a cabin located in almost the same location to our cabin on last year’s Equinox cruise. The way I knew I would like the location. Concierge Class does call for 50 cents more per day for gratuities, and our on board credit from the travel agency went down by $25, so all total the new price gave us a savings for $462.

While we know our grand total for the cruise will be much more, our base price plus taxes and port fees ended up coming in at $4633.58, which comes out to around $128 per person per day. That price includes out cabin, food, some beverages, entertainment, shipboard activities, and transport from Sydney to Honolulu. On top of that we’ll have about $387 in gratuities plus our wine purchases, sodas, and excursions from the ship. We are hoping to utilized only frequent flyers miles to cover our flights to Sydney and home from Honolulu. We wont be able to book those until a little less than a year before the cruise. We are also hoping to have some hotel points to cover both our stay in Sydney and Honolulu pre and post cruise. The airline miles and hotel points should help to keep the costs down for this trip as even coach flights to Sydney are quite expensive.

This looks to be a fabulous way to celebrate our 20 years of married life together.