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26 April 2023

We gathered at the international cruise terminal, busting with excitement to board the magnificent Splendor and start our cruise holiday to New Zealand! Once onboard, and all of the essential check-in stuff out of the way, the fun began!!  

The Carnival slogan is “Fun is Key” and they sure know how to do fun right! Our first couple of days at sea we had cracks at trivia, watched side splitting comedians and were entertained by some amazing shows in the “Spectacular Spectacular” lounge. From dancers, singers, musicians, circus acts to huge inflatable penguins and hypnotherapy shows. The entertainment was endless!  

Now let us tell you about the food! Wowzas!!! We may all need to loosen a notch on our belts after this trip! Breakfast was a huge buffet spread that had all the faves plus a mix of something new each day. Lunches, we were spoilt for choice from the upper deck BBQ (the lamb was incredible!), lunchtime buffet, the deli and more! Dinner was the fave for us! We had a secure reservation every nigh at the fancy Gold Pearl Restaurant. And just quietly, we had the best table in the whole place! Well, 2 tables actually, right up front, huge window views and our timing was always perfect for sunset. Just outstanding. A three course meal was available every night. Always something different, different themes, but the staples such as steak and snitty always on the list.  

We need to reserve a special place (while talking food), for the Carnival melting chocolate cake. Dubbed as the “Chocolate pudding” by our TT gang, it fast became the favourite dessert of the group. We cheered when it arrived to our table, savored every single melty mouthful, and with concern we’d miss it so much once we were home, they gave us the recipe!!!! The challenge is now set when we get home who can nail the masterpiece!  

After two days at sea, we arrive in New Zealand. Our first day in NZ was spend cruising the magical Fiordland National Park. We cruised in and out of six sounds including the famous Milford sound! The ship was very quiet that day as everyone stared in awe at what was surrounding us. The massive mountains and cascading falls made the Carnival Splendor feel like a teeny matchbox car! It was an experience we will all remember forever! Absolutely incredible! 

Our next stop the following day saw us arrive in Dunedin. We hopped off the ship in the quaint little portside town of Lyttleton and boarded our coach into Dunedin. Filling with history, amazing old buildings and churches Dunedin was like stepping back in time. St Paul’s Cathedral invited you inside via the old stone steps leading up to its impressive stained-glass entrance. Inside was a huge pipe organ that took up an entire wall. It had over 70,000 pipes! We also visited the old Dunedin train station. Home of the Sports Museum which had an impressive display of sports history and memorabilia.  

Next we were off to Christchurch! The local council were so excited to have the cruise ships coming back, they really stepped up the hospitality. We were greeted on arrival, given maps and tips on how to get around the city. We jumped onto the city’s oldest tram and enjoyed a tour all over including commentary from our driver Baz. Baz has a total legend and knew so many stories about the city, the dreaded earthquake and the progress of the city’s rebuilding. We went to the super trendy Riverside markets for lunch where there was practically every cuisine from all over the world! From delish burgers, fancy pies, Mexican, Thai, Indian, everyone’s taste buds were treated. After lunch we took a walk through town, did some souvenir shopping then finished off taking in the views of the city from the top floor of the library. A great tip from Baz the tram driver! 

Our final day ashore in New Zealand was spend in the capital, Wellington! Known as “Windy Wellington” we were very lucky to have a calm day. No one got blown away at all! The morning started off a little rainy, but the light rain was quite nice and soon turned into a lovely sunny day. Once in the city, we hopped onto a double decker bus to see some sights. Some of us got to ride right at the front of the top deck, which was very cool! We went down to the waters edge and had an amazing lunch at Mac’s Brewery then visited the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. A huge museum with multiple levels of exhibits. From tall wooden Mouri carvings, extinct animal skeletons and lots of kiwi facts. We didn’t know there were more than one type of Kiwi, there are four! 

After our day in Wellington, we farewelled New Zealand. But the fun was far from over! We were spoilt with more food, entertainment, parties, dancing, waterslides, bubbles in the spa, comedy shows, so so much during our 3 days at sea returning to Sydney. We even got to meet the captain!  

On arrival back home, the sunrise view pulling into Sydney Harbour was spectacular! Even the Captain told us he never gets tired on the sight of Sydney Harbour, which says a lot since he has been a Captain with Carnival for over 30 years! We disembarked and said our goodbyes and returned home full of excitement, memories and stories of our amazing cruise holiday to New Zealand.