Radiance of the Seas Cruise – Dunedin to Sydney

I was booked on the Dunedin Highlights tour and as we were leaving the ship, we had to drop our bags for the beagle sniffer dogs. After a drive from Port Chalmers to Dunedin, we stopped at the Otago Museum, which hadn’t opened to the public for the day yet (10am). We had about an hour here. Passing the world’s steepest straight road, we headed to the botanical gardens, where we had 35 minutes so couldn’t see much. There was a little train for $2 you could take around but you didn’t see things in detail that way.
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Next stop was The Olveston Experience, an old house given to the city in 1966 when the last member of the family died in 1966. You weren’t allowed to take photos inside, only out, but it was quite fascinating. A real life Upstairs Downstairs as it was in a town house rather than country one. We were split into 3 groups and our guide was an elderly man who was funny.
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Then we drove to the Octagon to drop people off who wanted to stay in town before returning to the ship. Before we were allowed onto the dock, a couple of security guards boarded the bus to check our cruise cards and passports. Once all present and correct, we could continue and the 1pm tour was waiting on the dock. Due to our leaving late, we returned 25 minutes after time.
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Our sailaway was half an hour late to compensate for the arrival. The Captain told us there were Albatrosses near where we dropped the pilot, but failed to mention we’d be waiting almost an hour in cold winds in fading light! Not many saw them. So missed the show but it was another early night due to a tour in the morning.
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Since the dock was destroyed in Lyttelton due to the earthquakes in Christchurch, cruise ships now anchored in Akaroa, about 90 minutes away from Christchurch. I was doing the Harbour & Wildlife tour once we’d tendered to the mainland. Another beagle sniffer dog checking for food was by the gangway.
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The tour was run by Black Cat Cruises. We saw some dolphins, a little blue penguin, cormorants, albatrosses and fur skin seals. There was a complimentary tea or coffee which was most welcome on the way back as it had become chilly.
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I went for a wander afterwards but returned to the tender dock when it started drizzling a bit. No one checked your passports. During the ride back, no one wanted to go on the top. It poured, was quite windy so many of us got wet.
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Due to the Transpacific train tour returning at 5.45pm. we didn’t sail until 6.30pm, half an hour late. It was cold as the sun was setting but the scenery was so beautiful I stayed out as long as I could and had another early night after dinner since it was an even earlier start.
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Our final port before disembarkation was Wellington, known as windy Wellington. My tour was Wellington & Shipwreck Coast, which left at 7.30am – eek! New Zealand security was there with the beagle as we left the ship. Our tour bus was a bus and we left as it was sunrise. There were three buses on this tour as we headed to Pencarrow Lodge for a sheepdog demonstration as well as morning tea. We stopped once en route to take photos of both lighthouses, the top one no longer used but a historical monument. Once we reached the Lodge, bus 7 left, which panicked a few of the passengers. We all crowded around to watch the demonstration then went inside.
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On the way back into town, we and bus 8 stopped at the SS Paiaka shipwreck and the lighthouse for photos. Bus 7 had already done it. We made our way towards the botanical gardens where we would spend half an hour looking at the Lady Norwood rose garden. It was raining as we returned to the bus then poured on the way into town to drop anyone off. Only 2 left the bus. It was heavier by the time we returned to the ship. A security guard got on but only checked our seapass cards, not passports. They were testing lifeboats during lunch, having done a drill in the morning.
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Our 3.30pm sailaway became 4pm thanks to waiting for 2 missing passengers. No idea if they turned up. It was definitely Windy Wellington now! Skipped the show.
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A sea day as we headed towards Sydney and we gained an hour due to daylight savings ending – woo! Due to being on my feet 4 days in a row, my knee was really painful so I was extremely boring and rested it, only going to the Diamond Club then dinner. The show was The Aussie Boys who were good.
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Another hour gained as it was the day we had to pack and get ready to be booted off Radiance – unless you were one of the lucky ones staying like that one on since February and staying until Vancouver. Today was the belly flop, postponed numerously due to weather followed by a pool barbecue.
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The afternoon was pool volleyball, Australia versus the rest of the world. Australia lost 3-0. Managed to get everything into my case somehow. Think it turned into a Tardis somewhere during the trip!
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The farewell show was good then it was dinner. The wheel on my case broke, probably due to weight, so it was dragged out of the room. Early night due to our arrival.
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One more hour gained and up in time to watch us come into Sydney. The Captain had said th3e best places would be deck 12 and the helipad but failed to mention it would be pissing with rain! Many had packed the wrong things including me, whose hem was soaking up the water on deck!
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Disembarkation was at 7.30am and it was a very smooth one. Stella Eaton, who I knew on Facebook, came to meet me. My case was okay so they must have fixed my wheel. I was booked into the Holiday Inn at the Rocks and they had a room so let me check in. The weather was rain, sun, cold, rain, sun, boiling. Two changes of clothes needed! By the time we went to watch Radiance sail it was lovely. We met an American called Nicole and went to the Orient Hotel afterwards for a drink and food. She was flying out the next day, as was Stella.
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So it’s adieu, my beautiful Radiance, after my best cruise EVER! After almost 5 years, something has knocked the QE2 to the Fjords into second place. Hopefully I shall return. Can’t think of a better ship to go on again if I’m back out this way or maybe Alaska.

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