Our next cruise was a bit more ambitious and we spent a lot of time planning all the details. We booked cruise onboard the Celebrity Solstice leaving from Sydney, Australia and ending up in Honolulu, Hawaii with stops in New Zealand and French Polynesia along the way. Of course that meant we had to get to Sydney to board the ship!
We decided that we would arrive in Sydney three days ahead of cruise departure so we could explore both Sydney and the surrounding area. I had been to Australia once but had been to Perth/Freemantle area on the west coast. Liz had not been at all. We discovered that Qantas Airlines had a non-stop flight from Dallas to Sydney that was about 17 hours long in one of their huge A380 double-decker planes. It actually only took about 16 hours and before you say “I could never be in a plane that long” let us assure you that it was one of the best flights we have ever taken.
Anyway, we arrived in Sydney at “O-dark thirty” and were met by a driver who would take us to the hotel we had booked. It was way to early to actually get into the hotel but they had told us they would check us in and then store our bags and we could go explore Sydney and when we came back that afternoon our bags would be waiting for us in our room.
We had previously booked a “lunch cruise” of Sydney Harbor leaving from Darling Harbor so we started walking in that direction planning to see the harbor area before lunch. We stopped along the way at a cozy little coffee shop for a snack and watched people scurrying about to work or classes. At one point on our walk we ran into some construction which caused me to question our route. I stopped someone on the sidewalk and in typical Australian fashion they were extremely cheerful and helpful.
We made it to Kings Warf on Darling Harbor and walked around checking the sights then found our boat and boarded for the harbor tour and a wonderful buffet lunch. It was a touristy thing to do but it was well done and we learned and saw a lot about Sydney. After this we went back to the hotel and unpacked and relaxed a bit before we were to meet some friends from Sweden for dinner that evening.
The next day we were booked on a tour to the Blue Mountains and a wildlife preserve with two other couples. The mountains were socked in with heavy fog that day but we did not let that dampen our spirits and we enjoyed our time. It did, however, cause us to arrive at the wildlife preserve later and we were rushed for time there. Still it was interesting to observe all the different animals that you normally only see in books or TV.
For our third day we had booked a tour with “Your Sydney Guide”. Our guide was Scott and he took us and two other couples all over Sydney and the surrounding area. Scott was the absolute best tour guide we have ever had before or since. We spent a little over 6 hours visiting all the iconic views and some of the natural wonders such as Ku-Ring-Gai National Park.
On the evening of this last day in Sydney, Liz and I had tickets to a concert at the Sydney Opera House which was most enjoyable and one we will never forget.
The next morning we packed our bags and headed to the cruise port which was next to the Opera House!