Monday, July 19, 2010

Slow boat to New Zealand

I leave Vancouver on September 22, 2010 for Auckland aboard the Volendam, a Holland America cruise ship. I arrive in Auckland a month later on Oct 22nd after stopping in 14 ports of call in the South Pacific.  After spending an additional two weeks in New Zealand, I return home to Victoria, BC, Canada on Nov 6, 2010.

So how did this happen?  Actually, it all came together rather quickly.  Some friends of mine saw an article in the travel section of the local paper describing this repositioning cruise for the Volendam, and told me about it.  I looked at the itinerary, and liked all the ports of call in the South Pacific.  I priced out the cruise, and estimated the additional costs (on-board expenses, land expenses in New Zealand, and airfare home); factored in the single supplement, and still found the trip was an incredible bargain at only $145/day.  The cruise itself works out to under $100/day/person for a couple staying in a modest stateroom!

If I wanted a choice of staterooms, I realized I had to decide quickly about this trip, and ended up booking the trip a mere four hours after hearing about it. I booked through the travelocity.ca online travel service, since I received Holland America's Flash Rate. This reduced the fare even further by several hundred dollars.

The last time I took a cruise was 1981 - a trans Panama Canal cruise from Vancouver to San Juan, Puerto Rico with several ports of call in the Caribbean Islands.  Needless to say, the cruise ship industry has changed a great deal since then!

A few days after booking the cruise, I booked my return flight home on Qantas from Auckland to Victoria. I very much liked flying with Qantas last time I was returning from New Zealand - I took note that they offered a considerable improvement in in-flight service as compared with their competitor, Air New Zealand.

My friends who alerted me to this deal also booked the same cruise a few days later.  We plan to tour New Zealand in a shared rental car, and have agreed to confine ourselves to the North Island, so as to not run ourselves ragged while in NZ.  I have a cousin and a friend I want to visit with while on the North Island, so that will add some purpose to the trip.  My last trip to  New Zealand was too short, so having two weeks should allow me to see the major sights on the North Island.

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