Day 1: Australia – – Auckland
Make your way to the airport and catch a one-way Qantas flight to Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand. You have one nights’ pre-cruise accommodation in the City of Sails ahead of boarding the Celebrity Solstice tomorrow afternoon. Your time in the city before then is at your leisure. Head up to the observation deck of one of Auckland’s most iconic structures, the Sky Tower, to admire the sweeping outlook across the city, take a leap of faith with the SkyJump, or test your nerves with the thrilling SkyWalk. Explore the blooms of Auckland Domain, the oldest park in the city, or jump onto a ferry for the trip to Devonport. Get a culture fix at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, or learn about New Zealand’s military legacy at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
Day 2: Auckland – Embark on Cruise (D)
You have this morning as more free time. Perhaps squeeze in a leisurely stroll along the harbourfront, stopping at a local café or restaurant for a delicious breakfast and coffee. Look in at the volcanic crater atop Mount Eden, make the quick harbour crossing to Waiheke Island, or sneak in a quick kayak excursion around Great Barrier Island.
Make your way to the cruising port at the necessary time and clear boarding procedures to step food aboard the Celebrity Solstice. This remarkable ship is one of the most-award in the world and flaunts a design boasting contemporary cabins, top-rate restaurants and eateries, luxurious leisure facilities, and more. Get settled into your cabin or stateroom and hunt down the Main Restaurant when it comes time for dinner. All of your meals while aboard are included so you might even make note of the most efficient route from your room to the restaurants. The cruise departs Auckland at 6pm.
Day 3: Bay of Islands (B, L, D)
Wake up to your first morning aboard to find the Celebrity Solstice tendered in the beautiful Bay of Islands. Have breakfast on the ship and then take smaller boats to shore. This region is renowned around the world for its pristine landscape and dazzling scenery – all crystal-clear water, untouched islands and an incredibly diverse ecosystem of wildlife and flora. One of the most popular things for visitors to do in the area is an eco-cruise around the coast and islands. This is a great opportunity to see dolphins, marlin, seals and maybe even a whale if you’re lucky! Keen bird-watchers will revel in the chances to indulge this passion while in the Bay of Islands. Another activity option is to visit caves to see glow worms and rock formations, or you might stick to land-based pursuits with scenic walks and mountain-biking. The Celebrity Solstice is tendered in the Bay of Islands from 8am to 5pm.
Day 4: Tauranga (B, L, D)
The cruise arrives in Tauranga this morning. This harbourside city is perched on a scenic section of the Bay of Plenty and is the largest city in the region. Tauranga was originally settled by Maori groups in the 13th century, and today is a popular destination for visitors looking to discover the area’s white-sand beaches and pretty coves. The city also has a great gourmet and dining scene with a collection of cafes and restaurants dishing up plates using incredible local produce. See Tauranga at a leisurely pace by ambling along the waterfront Strand, or opt to admire old-world architecture at the Elms Mission Station. Walking enthusiasts can also hit one of the bush trails in McLaren Falls Park.
Day 5: At Sea (B, L, D)
Your first full at-sea day is a great opportunity to unwind and relax as you lounge by the swimming pool, sip cocktails at one of the bars, or chat with fellow passengers.
Day 6: Akaroa (B, L, D)
Say bonjour to the town of Akaroa today. As the only French-established settlement in New Zealand, the Francophile influence in this charming town still runs strong. Akaroa sits on the shore of the Banks Peninsula, and its namesake beach is where visitors may be able to spot the rare Hector’s dolphins. Learn about Akaroa’s colonial legacy in at the Akaroa Museum, plan an excursion to Akaroa Marine Reserve, or meander the Garden of Tane while here. The ship is docked in Akaroa from 8am until 7pm.
Day 7: Dunedin (B, L, D)
The cityscape of Dunedin is yours for the exploration today. The Celebrity Solstice arrives to this South Island city at 9am and is docked until 7pm. The hours in between can be spent delving into Dunedin’s Gaelic roots, Scot-style atmosphere and rich Maori culture. Architecture-admirers can check out the groupings of Victorian and Edwardian-era buildings, visit New Zealand’s only castle at Larnach Castle & Gardens, or appreciate the unique design of the Dunedin Railway Station. Dunedin is also the gateway to the wider Otago Peninsula, a landscape home to untouched beaches, craggy cliffs and wildlife including royal albatross, penguins and a rare New Zealand sea lion. A visit to the Otago Museum is a great way to learn about the area, and green-thumbs will delight in ambling between the blooms and beds of the Dunedin Botanic Garden. Self-confessed chocoholics, however, will likely only have one destination on the brain: the Cadbury chocolate factory.
Day 8: Dusky Sound – Doubtful Sound – Milford Sound (B, L, D)
Experience not just one but three of New Zealand’s most iconic natural sites today. These encounters begin at Dusky Sound, located within the famed Fiordland National Park. Head up on deck to get an unobstructed view of the fjord’s steep cliffs, waterfalls and any wildlife as the ship spends an hour cruising. Next, the Celebrity Solstice charts a path to Doubtful Sound. This fjord received its unique moniker courtesy of Captain Cook – who was unsure if his ship would pass the narrow channels – and was originally named Doubtful Harbour. The last fjord explored today is arguably the most spectacular and most well-known: Milford Sound. This is among New Zealand’s most recognisable natural landmarks and enjoys a world-wide reputation for its rugged and towering peaks, its cascading waterfalls, and a lush landscape of rainforest and rolling hills. The Celebrity Solstice spends about 90 minutes cruising through Milford Sound, so travellers have ample time to snap photographs and scout for wildlife including penguins, fur seals and even dolphins.
Day 9: At Sea (B, L, D)
It is time to say goodbye to New Zealand as the Celebrity Solstice begins the voyage towards Australia. The next two days are both spent entirely at sea, providing you with an unbeatable opportunity to book in for pampering treatments at the day spa, sample the cuisines from the on-board restaurants, work up a sweat in the gym, or simply laze by the swimming pool.
Day 10: At Sea (B, L, D)
Continue taking advantage of the facilities, entertainment offerings and activities aboard the Celebrity Solstice.
Day 11: Sydney (B, L, D)
Arrive into Australia’s Harbour City at 8am and have the day to work through its myriad of sights, attractions, landmarks and experiences however you like. The ship is docked here overnight, so you also have the chance to see how the city changes after dark. Passengers on their first visit to Sydney may find themselves drawn to the likes of Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Bondi Bridge. Jump aboard a ferry to make the trip across to Manly for a slight chance of pace, or devote the late morning or afternoon to exploring some of the inner-city suburbs such as Surry Hills, Newtown, Paddington or Haymarket.
Day 12: Sydney (B, L, D)
You have another full day to soak up all things Sydney. Join a walking tour of The Rocks, plan a picnic in the Royal Botanic Gardens, see the city from above at Sydney Tower, or even get out of the city entirely by venturing into the Blue Mountains. The Celebrity Solstice departs Sydney at 10pm.
Day 13: At Sea (B, L, D)
The ship starts to move southwards on this last full day of cruising. Now is the time to fit in one more visit to your favourite on-board restaurant, another indulgent treatment at the spa, or to attend another live performance or show. Tonight is your final night aboard the Celebrity Solstice.
Day 14: Melbourne (B)
Sail into Melbourne at 6.30am. The Victorian capital city is one of the world’s most liveable cities, having scooped up this prestigious gong on numerous occasions. Have breakfast on-board the ship and disembark afterwards. You are then free to move about Melbourne ahead of your own travel arrangements for returning home.
Should you choose to stay in Melbourne a little bit longer, you’ll find a wealth of things to keep you more than preoccupied and entertained. Head into the CBD to see the renowned street art strewn along Hosier and AC/DC Lanes, pick up bites to eat and souvenirs at Queen Victoria Market, look down on the city from the 88th floor of the Eureka Tower, or find a grassy patch to picnic and unwind at in the Royal Botanic Gardens. Away from the city centre are vibrant suburbs promising excellent farmers’ and weekend markets, world-class multicultural cuisines, and plenty of quirky boutiques, museums and galleries.