Steampunk NZ Cruise – Wellington

Back in Windy Wellington!  But yet again, the luck is with us and it’s not windy, it’s not raining, it’s not cold and miserable, it’s beautiful.  I have a feeling Wellington is trying to con us – every time we come here, the weather is gorgeous and everyone says, ‘It’s not normally like this’… au contraire mes amies!  🙂

Most of our group went off on a LoTR tour today to see various places where the LoTR movies were filmed and to check out the Weta Workshop where Peter Jackson and his flunkies work their movie magic.

While Mr K and I did a bit of shopping and head over to Te Papa – we always go over to the Te Papa museum when we are in Wellington, they must have an excellent curatorial staff, as they always have interesting international exhibitions on and they have an excellent gift shop full of unique and local fine art and craft work.  Though having said that the gift shop seems to have emptied somewhat since last time we were here – less books or something?

After pottering around the museum a bit, we went for a stroll down the boardwalk to meet up with Taxi B and his partner for lunch.  As it turns out some work contacts of Mr K’s were on the same ship as we were – total coincidence.  There are 24 of us and they were travelling in a group of 8 or 9 I believe?  Anyway, we were catching up with them both for lunch along the waterfront.  As the fates would have it, our idiot Premier (god bless his unholy corporately supplied socks) had just that morning called an election, and our lunch suddenly turned from travel and cruise holidays to work.  Oh dear… possibly my fault too.  Nevermind.

Back on board this afternoon relatively early so we could hit those bucket beers one more time!  Can’t remember who was on the deck on the big screen… could have been Billy Joel?  I dunno.  Couple of Mai Tais and I don’t care.


Steampunk NZ Cruise – Napier

Napier is a cool little town – I’ve visited here a couple of times before. So this trip, we decided to just wander around, check out the local shopping, enjoy the art deco ambiance and maybe take in a movie, perhaps if we have time, head over to Rosies, this cool little Irish pub one street back from the Esplanade.  The Penguins of Madagascar had just come out and the kids were keen to go see it – though in truth, I have a feeling Mr K was probably more keen as the kids were, so about 12 of us went to go see it.

Overall a much quieter day than taking the fun bus out to Hobbiton.  And given that I was pretty stuffed… as much as I love cruising, I do hate sleeping on strange beds… so I promptly fell asleep about 30 minutes into the film, (yes, that’s becoming a bit of a bad habit to be honest), but I’m pretty sure I’ll get a chance to watch it some other time down the track.

napier 5napier 4

We pottered around enjoying the architecture and the townspeople who get into the art deco swing of things, with their old cars and flapper outfits for the tourists when the ships come to town. Which must get a bit boring for them after a while, there is a ship in nearly every day in the season, but there they are out with their sparkling immaculate vintage cars, their costumes, and their four piece bands playing some swing.  Good on them, I reckon.  🙂

Got back on deck tonight to hear everyone lamenting how we were half way through our trip and we only had a week to go.  Seriously? I thought I was bad at math… we were on day 6 which means we have 8 nights left.  Talk about wishing the trip away!

Steampunk NZ Cruise – Next stop, Hobbiton!

I’ve been to Hobbiton before – in fact last December when we did this same cruise, and the main reason I was doing it again was to take the Small Child to go check it out.  Like most teenage boys, he is quite keen on the LoTR and the Hobbit movies and the newest one was out in the cinemas just a couple of weeks away so off we went.

There were eight of us keen to go and we had done all our research well in advance so, we didn’t book our Hobbiton trip through the ship.  Like last time, we hired a private vehicle and booked our tickets directly through the Hobbiton website.  At $75 for Hobbiton tickets and chipping in a bit for car hire, this works out sooo much cheaper than booking through the ship at $150pp or whatever it is they are charging lately.  New Zealand is an English speaking country, that drives on the correct side of the road, so no hassles hiring cars and doing your own thing.

The fun bus was not so fun… we had one with a bad cough up the back and another with the beginnings of laryngitis up the front, and no GPS and some really dodgy maps.  So that was a little stressful, but we got there with only one tiny wrong turn and with plenty of time to spare for our tour time.  The place must be making money hand over fist, the gift shop is quite twice the size it was when we were there the same time last year, had ten times as many souvenirs and things to offer and the buses and facilities were all upgraded.  Pretty amazing how popular the place is turning out to be, but given just how dedicated LoTR fans are – it’s probably not that surprising.

We wandered around, went checking out the hobbit holes, had a great tour guide (a local girl who had just finished her teaching degree, so she had plenty of answers to general NZ questions too).  Lots of photos… too many to include.  But these were some of my favourites.

Hobbiton 8 Hobbiton 7 Hobbiton 6 Hobbiton 5 Hobbiton 4 Hobbiton 3 Hobbiton 2 HobbitonDefinitely a lot of fun, and so much attention to detail.  It’d be nice to be given more time to hang out at the Green Dragon Tavern at the end of the tour, but seeing that they are now pushing thousands of tourists through the place every day, I guess they can’t afford to just let groups linger or the place would be over packed and no one would really enjoy it.  The Tavern would be a great place to hold a function though – they do private weddings and parties quite frequently by the sounds of it… no doubt for a price!  🙂


Steampunk NZ Cruise – Boarding!

Well, boarding with so many people was really kinda hectic… and seeing I had made all the booking arrangements for everyone, I really felt very responsible for trying to make sure things went smoothly – which of course, they didn’t.  Mostly because the information that I gained from Ann and Suzie, the Princess travel consultants bore little to no resemblance to the actual procedures we encountered when we finally went through embarkation processes and the whole dealing with the Purser’s Desk to have people rooms re-keyed back to their proper cabins (remember we had mixed everyone up to maximise the past passenger discounts).

At the end of it all, and once on board, I found myself taking a few minutes to write a strongly worded email to Ann and Suzie about it… because I knew if I didn’t get it off my chest, I was going to end up exploding at the staff on the ship – and it is hardly their fault that I was given bad advice!

Dear Ann

I am writing to let you know that our boarding process today has been a complete cluster! Your fill in, Suzie, advised us that we should stick together through the boarding process and stated that we would be able to all use the priority boarding lane given we had a few platinum passengers in our largish group. At the terminal we were told this was not possible (in spite of the priority boarding queue being almost empty) and that, (and I quote here,) ‘the Princess travel agents don’t know anything’! 

However that has not been our worst encounter this afternoon. We have finally made it on board – over two hours in total – and all lined up at the empty pursers desk to have our cruise cards re-keyed to the correct room … and have just been informed that the can not re-key our cards, but that they need reissuing and won’t be available for collection until tomorrow afternoon!!!  This is completely unacceptable. We have 20 adults unable to recreate at their own leisure because they have to stick with their cabin mate given their second passengers keys don’t work!!!
I have several very annoyed passengers, whom I feel very responsible towards given I have been the one advising them of the applicable processes… None of which has turned out to be correct. 
I understand that you don’t work in the terminal or on the ship – but I never would have expected this level of disconnect of information. I am thoroughly unimpressed with our boarding process today. It’s been deplorable and I now find myself having to placate people who this morning were bursting with excitement.  🙁


Oh well, offloaded that crap, let’s move on.  I gave everyone their black and gold VIP lanyards, complete with their steampunk cogs and things that I attached (they seemed to be a hit, it’s nice to look like a group), and I had Mr K go ahead of us and put signs on all our cabin doors so we (and our cabin stewards) would be able to find each other easily.  We all dropped what we could into our cabins and went up on decks for sail away drinks. That first Mai Tai went a long way to soothing away the hassles of boarding.. as we excitedly sailed out under the Gateway Bridge, amidst lots of smiles and yahooing and (ZOMG, so many!) selfies all round!

sail away 2 Sail away 1


Steampunk Cruise New Zealand.

So… how did this come about?  Last year, Mr K and I cruised around New Zealand with Princess (for the 3rd time) and had a wonderful relaxing holiday which we naturally were posting about on Facebook as we travelled… as you do.  Quite a few of our friends commented that they’d love to go on a cruise and well, I just assumed it was lip services, so back in January this year, I created an event “New Zealand Cruise”, chose a date, 30th December on the Sea Princess (for New Years Eve fun, and school holiday convenience and a lot of our public service type friends are on leave around that time anyway) and I thought maybe half a dozen people would want to come with us…?

Little did I know that we would end up with 24 cruisers in 11 cabins from Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra all deciding to join us!  So in early Feb 2014, I did the bookings with a lovely lady – Princess Ann, I called her – and I did everything I could to minimise the cabin costs (this primarily involved switching all our past passengers around into different cabins to get a discounted cabin rate) and keep the initial deposit costs low.  We didn’t have quite enough past passengers for discounted cabins for everyone, but the one cabin that missed out had an ex-military member so they scored themselves a nice chunk of OBC which kinda balanced things out nicely.

After we made our bookings and paid our deposits in early February the watching and the watching began…  I was assured by Princess Ann that we could price match any discounted fares that we found along the way, and she was really helpful in doing that for us.  Thanks to constant vigilance on the website, newspapers and promotional emails, I managed to get our entire group’s passage down from the original $AUD61,453.00 to $42,714.00 by the time final payments were due.  Not bad if I do say so myself.

We’ve all been getting increasingly excited about the trip and there have been lots of questions flying around our little FB Cruise Group about packing, shore tours, cruise cards, embarkation processes, passport requirements and lord knows what else!  It’s going to be a LOT of fun.

Oh, and did I mention the Steampunk cruise bit?  My sister, BigSal and her family are coming along and almost literally the first thing she thinks of is ‘We will still be at sea for Borys’ birthday, we should have a Steampunk party in the Wheelhouse Bar!’  Because of course you can’t have a bar decorated like an Edwardian study without steampunk costumes… which is why we were all madly making steampunk costumes over the last few weeks!  Thanks BigSal.  Love your work *mutter mutter* sewing, extra luggage… hmmm.