Cruise package – New Zealand and Australia with Celebrity Cruises

A cruise package vacation visiting New Zealand and Australia in the same trip is a travel combo that is hard to beat.

In this article, we hope to give you inspiration and insight on how to book your cruise package confidently, making the most of visiting two of the world’s most beautiful cities before and after your cruise. Start in Auckland, New Zealand, and end in Sydney, Australia!

It’s time to stop dreaming and start planning – starting in the fantastic destination of Auckland.

When is the best time to cruise Australia and New Zealand?

If you are looking for an untamed wilderness, a rich culture, and everything from mountain ranges to clear oceans, you will find them on a cruise from New Zealand to Sydney.

The best time of year to visit is during the spring and summer seasons – that is, September through to March. Remember, summer and winters are the reverse of those in Europe and North America. Cruise season is during the spring and summer, with some cruises stretching into the Fall period in April and May.

Celebrity Cruises have great itineraries in New Zealand and Australia for cruise season in 2022 and 2023 onboard Celebrity Eclipse and Celebrity Edge.

Royal Caribbean are offering cruises in New Zealand and Australia onboard Radiance of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas in 2022 and 2023.

Norwegian Cruise Line have cruises in New Zealand and Australia onboard Norwegian Spirit in 2022 and 2023. 

21-night cruise package to New Zealand & Australia includes:

  • 5 hotel nights in Auckland before your cruise
  • 12-night luxury cruise with Celebrity Eclipse
  • 4 hotel nights in Sydney after your cruise

Cruise package Auckland to Sydney with Celebrity Eclipse

Starting in Auckland and finishing in Sydney on board the beautiful Celebrity Eclipse, your ports of call include:

  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • Tauranga, New Zealand
  • Napier, New Zealand
  • Picton, New Zealand
  • Wellington, New Zealand
  • Christchurch, New Zealand
  • At sea cruising onboard Celebrity Eclipse
  • Dunedin (Port Chalmers), New Zealand
  • New Zealand’s fjord landscape and the famous fjords of Dusky, Doubtful, and Milford Sound. 
  • At sea cruising onboard Celebrity Eclipse
  • At sea cruising onboard Celebrity Eclipse
  • Newcastle, Australia
  • Sydney, Australia

Welcome to a 3-week trip of a lifetime! Best of all, it’s easy to book yourself, so you have complete control over your vacation.

Flights: Tips for flights to Auckland and home from Sydney

When looking for flights, remember that flying to New Zealand and Australia takes a long time, and there can be a big time difference depending on where you fly from.

Check the dates and times of arrival and departure so that you book the correct dates with your hotel. If the time given for your flight arrival includes “+1,” this means that you are arriving at the stated time on the following day after the departure date. This happens with eastbound flights.

You must book a flight to Auckland but home from Sydney for this cruise. This type of ticket is called an “open-jaw” ticket.

We recommend booking flights around 4-6 months before your travel date. But keep an eye on availability and special offers from the large international airlines such as Qantas, British Airways, Emirates, and Singapore Airlines.

The earliest you will be able to book your flight ticket is around 11 months before your planned departure date when seats and prices are released by the airline.

A flight journey with fewer stops is often worth the extra cost

Book a ticket with as few stops as possible unless you want a stopover on the way to New Zealand (for example, overnight in a city such as Singapore to break up the long journey).
There are two main benefits to doing this, and it is often worth paying more for this option:

  1. It will shorten your overall journey time there, minimizing the risk of lengthy jetlag
  2. There will be fewer opportunities for your baggage to be lost by the airline

As with all cruise bookings that require you to fly to your cruise port, we recommend booking a changeable and refundable flight ticket. Just in case! Cruise lines can change their itineraries or cancel sailings; you may need to amend your flight ticket accordingly.

Check the terms and conditions of your flight ticket before purchasing. Remember that tickets offering the lowest price can often be inflexible. Avoid tickets that are non-refundable and non-changeable.

Transport: Tips for arrival transfer from airport to hotel

If your flight arrives in the middle of the night, you will need to book that night’s accommodation too so that you have a room to check into directly upon arrival. Just inform your hotel of your estimated check-in time. This will prevent your room from being released if they think you will not show up late into the night.

We recommend booking an airport transfer service directly with the hotel when you make your accommodation reservation. Especially if you are more than two people, it will be worth the cost.

Each of the hotels we recommend offers a transfer service from the airport to your hotel (for a fee). 

Where to stay: 5 nights pre-cruise in Auckland

Five nights in Auckland is a great way to start your cruise package New Zealand and Australia vacation. 

We have a list of tried and tested hotels in Auckland that we have used many times for cruise customers. The cruise port is close to the city center and easy to get to. Most major cruise lines use Princes Wharf, but remember to check your cruise ticket.

The heart of the city of Auckland is the Central Business District, and various suburbs surround the center. The hotels we recommend are centrally located in the CBD, which is the best choice for visitors.

You will be within easy reach of all the touristy things you’ll want to do and see. At the same time have some great options for nearby cafes, bars, and restaurants and easy access to local transport, including ferries, buses, and trains.

Your itinerary: 5 nights Auckland + 12 nights New Zealand & Australia Cruise +  4 nights Sydney

Day 1: Arrive in Auckland

Arrive at Auckland International Airport, having booked your flight with your favorite airline. The airport is located about 21km south of the city. (Tip! Read our advice about booking your flights online before you book!) 

Transfer to your hotel in Auckland using the hotel’s transfer service. Alternatively, there is an official taxi rank right outside your arrival terminal. We offer more information and alternative transport options here.

After the short 25-minute transfer from the airport to your hotel, check in, relax, and sleep away your jetlag.

Days 2-5: Exploring Auckland

Follow our 4-day detailed sightseeing itineraries on our Auckland page before you start your cruise. Click here for detailed itineraries, travel tips, and must-see sights, including:

Day 6: Check-in for your New Zealand & Australia cruise from Auckland

We recommend you ask the hotel’s concierge to book you a taxi to the Port of Auckland. You could walk, but remember you have your suitcases. Taxis are priced reasonably, and you can ask for a fixed fee. A taxi journey should not take more than 20 minutes depending on traffic in the city.

Your port name and check-in time are on your cruise ticket. Make sure you get to the correct cruise port terminal in time!

  • Cruise Line: Celebrity Cruises
  • Name of Ship: Celebrity Eclipse
  • Start Date: March 2022 + onwards throughout the cruise season  (Tip! Cruise dates and itineraries are subject to change at any time check with Celebrity Cruises at the time of booking)
  • Cruise Port: From Auckland, New Zealand, to Sydney, Australia 

Days 6 to 18: Cruise New Zealand & Australia (12 nights/13 days)

Cruise Day 1: Auckland

Check in for your cruise at Port of Auckland. Climb aboard Celebrity Eclipse and discover all the amenities you would want or need on vacation.

Settle into your cabin, unpack your suitcase, and head to the buffet restaurant for lunch. Or grab your favorite glass of bubble and relax on deck for the sail-away party!

Before you leave home, we recommend that you download the Celebrity app onto your mobile telephone. It’s a great way to easily check in for your cruise, stay connected with family and friends in your party on the ship, plan your activities, make reservations and see all that’s happening on board. And you do not need wifi to use it!

Cruise Day 2: Tauranga, New Zealand

Choosing how to spend your day in Tauranga will be a challenge. There isn’t time to do it all. However, everything is worth seeing. It is quite simply a great stop on your itinerary.

A favorite way to spend a day is discovering the Maori culture and the stunning landscape – nature and culture all day. To do this, we recommend a tour that takes you to Rotorua, where you can take in the sights of Mount Maunganui and the Sulphur Bay Hot Springs on lake Rotorua.

Tauranga is also famous for being one of the locations where Lord of the Rings was filmed. You can immerse yourself in the mythical world that is Middle Earth and visit the set of Hobbiton, which has become a busy hit with tourists.

Visiting Tauranga, you will appreciate how friendly and liveable the town is. With a wide, sandy beach, plenty of shopping, and an abundance of sunshine, you could enjoy a day at the beach if you become restless, rent a kayak, or stroll the boardwalk into town for lunch at one of the local eateries.

Cruise Day 3: Napier, New Zealand

Walking down Marine Parade in Napier after your ship has docked, you would be forgiven for thinking you were in South Beach, Miami. Napier is a fantastic example of the art deco style. The town was rebuilt after an earthquake in 1931 destroyed the city. Enjoy the architecture, the wide boulevards, and the charismatic locals running trendy boutiques and cafés.

We recommend that you combine a trip to the town with a bus excursion to one of Napier’s beautiful wine districts. If joining a group tour isn’t your thing, then the best way to experience the landscape is by renting a bike and cycling through wine country, following the Tukituki River.

Cruise Day 4: Marlborough (Picton), New Zealand

Picton is a small coastal town at the north-eastern tip of South Island, with a palm tree fringed harborside, surrounded by hills and mountains in the distance.

Downtown is sleepy, but there are quaint shops and some great cycle paths if you want to rent a bike. Cycle or walk the scenic route of Queen Charlotte Sound.

However, our top pick is visiting the famous Marlborough wine district. This is the most popular way to enjoy your time at this stop in Picton. Join a cruise ship group tour and get to know your fellow passengers while discovering New Zealand’s finest wines in the country’s most famous wine region for its outstanding Sauvignon Blanc.

Cruise Day 5: Wellington

Wellington is the world’s southernmost capital city, and this stop is a firm favorite amongst cruise passengers. Overlooking the blue waters of Lambton Harbour, the capital is compact, walkable, and very liveable. 

If you are exploring by yourselves, a great way to spend your time in this port of call is by heading directly to Lambton Quay Station, in the heart of the city. 

Use the cable car for the best panoramic views

The station is right next to the city’s main shopping precinct. At Lambton Quay Station, hop on the Wellington Cable Car for a 5-minute ride to Kelburn terminal. You are on your way not only to the best panoramic view of Wellington city but also to the Botanical Gardens and the conversation park Zealandia.

A one-way fare is about NZ$5 per adult and half the price for children. There are also well-priced family tickets if you have more than two children. 

At Kelburn terminal, you will find yourself right at the entrance to the fabulous Botanical Gardens for a perfect viewing platform of a view of the city and the bay. And right next door is the cable car museum.  

Unique wildlife you will only ever see in New Zealand

From the Botanical Gardens, there is a free shuttle bus to Zealandia. A fantastic urban eco-sanctuary where you can explore unique and endangered animals. See the rare Takahē bird, the Kākā parrot, and Little Spotted Kiwis.

It has a fabulous walk and talk tour that we highly recommend. A local guide will walk you through the forest and wetlands and describe the landscape’s inhabitants. There is 32km of trails within the park, and you can buy your tickets at the entrance.

A 20-minute walk takes you back down into the city center.

A city of music, literature, and film

Wellington is located between two of New Zealand’s finest wine regions. In addition to its strong coffee culture, you will find wine bars offering the region’s finest wines, and many you will have never seen or heard of before.

Evidence of the city’s love of music, literature, and film is everywhere, and Wellington has been host to movie-makers, such as the movies of Avatar and Lord of the Rings.

Life is lived along the water in an eclectic mix of different cultures, architectural styles, fishing, and kayaking. Murals, sculptures, wood carvings, live music, artists’ squares, and outdoor concerts are everywhere.

The “City to Sea” bridge connects the city to the waterfront. And if your cruise ship has docked on a Sunday, head to the waterfront market. It’s a favorite spot with the locals. 

Hop on a local bus for the short 2km ride to Oriental Bay, the closest beach to the city center. It’s packed full of eateries and craft breweries, yachts, and beautiful beach-front living.

Continue to Cuba street for live music. In the evening, this area comes alive with a market of outdoor food stalls, and most dishes are less than NZ$10 each. So if your cruise ship is in the port until late into the evening, you’ll have time to explore this area until nightfall!

If you prefer hiking in nature instead of spending time in the city center, take the covered walkway and hike through historic pine forests to the Mount Victoria Lookout. The path starts at Majoribanks Street and is signposted. The trail can be uneven, so wear good walking shoes. It will take you about 1.5 hours to walk the 4.6 km loop for an iconic view of Wellington and beyond. 

Cruise Day 6: Christchurch

On day 6 of your cruise, you dock near the city of Christchurch. Cruise ships use one of two cruise ports—the main port of Lyttelton or Akaroa. 

In Lyttelton, there are shuttle buses at the port to take you into Christchurch in about 20 minutes. 

Akaroa is further away from the center of the city. Here your ship will be anchored offshore, and tender boats will take you in small groups to Akaroa, about 90 minutes south of Christchurch. There are shuttle buses from the center of Akaroa to Christchurch, and we highly recommend you make the journey and visit Christchurch.

New Zealand’s Garden City

Christchurch is known as The Garden City in New Zealand due to the number of parks and open green areas in the city center. The city’s largest parks, Hagley Park, and the nearby Christchurch Botanical Gardens have excellent walking paths. You can even hire a punt boat and glide down the Avon river if you are after a more tranquil day out.

One of the best ways to see the city is to ride the open-top buses or take a ride on the Christchurch Trams. These heritage trams give you a great overview of the city center.

Hop off at Riverside Market, a huge indoor market with plenty of eateries and an indoor bar.

For a unique 360-degree view of the city, take The Christchurch Gondola to the top of Mount Cavendish. The summit is 500 meters above sea level, and the views are spectacular.

Rich and spicey Pinot Noirs and Rieslings in the Waipara Valley Wine Region

If you love good foods and wines and haven’t yet visited any of New Zealand’s wine regions on your cruise, we can recommend an excursion to the Waipara Valley wine region at this stop.

Book a group tour and enjoy meeting the local wine experts who run the vineyards. We can guarantee that you will bring home some of the outstanding local wines.

Cruise Day 7: At Sea

This is your chance to relax on board your award-winning cruise ship, Celebrity Eclipse.

With a choice of cabin classes to choose from and a fantastic food experience regardless of which restaurant you choose, Celebrity is appealing to couples or families with older children. You’ll find yourself on a sophisticated cruise with excellent nightly entertainment and retro-themed dance lounges.

For all-out luxury, book a cabin in The Retreat for access to an exclusive lounge and private restaurant, plus access to a dedicated concierge. 

Cruise Day 8: Dunedin (Port Chalmers), New Zealand

The harborside township of Port Chalmers is a weekend getaway for the Dunedin locals and a bustling artist colony.

Famous for being the spot where Captain Cook left for his Antarctic expeditions, you will be able to take the cruise ship shuttle bus to the Octagon, the center of Port Chalmers. And you can certainly have a great day here without going too far from your ship.

If you want to go further afield, a short 20-minute drive along the coast either by taxi (share the cost if there are 4 of you) or by bus from the Octagon, and you arrive in Dunedin.

With a Scottish heritage, Dunedin is a lively and liveable town with gorgeous Victorian and Edward architecture. It’s easy to walk around the town. Don’t miss the spectacular views across the ragged peninsula, the unique wildlife, friendly locals, and a wonderful mix of cafes, restaurants, and eateries. It is well worth a visit.

Cruise Day 9: Dusky, Doubtful, and Milford Sound

It’s important to know that on day 9 of your cruise, you do not stop in a port when you get your first glimpse of New Zealand. Day 9 is about cruising through New Zealand’s beautiful fjord landscape, and you will stay on board your cruise ship.

If you did not book a balcony cabin, then on this particular day, you will begin to wish you had.

You get a fantastic view of the fjords – Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, and Dusky Sound from your balcony, especially if you don’t feel like joining the rest of the guests on the top deck.

And don’t worry about not seeing everything on both sides. At some point, your captain must turn the ship around when you get the 360 degrees view.

Let’s talk a bit about the weather here. Unpredictable is a good word. It is not unusual that you will sail through the mist, but in our opinion, the fjord landscape becomes even more magical at these times. There can be rain, too. New Zealand weather can generally be a little obstinate. So pack a lightweight rain jacket, just in case.

Cruise Day 10 and 11: At Sea

Cruise Day 12: Newcastle, Australia

Welcome to Australia! Newcastle is your first landing point in beautiful Australia. Choosing how to spend your day in Newcastle will be tough. There isn’t time to do it all. However, everything is worth seeing. 

A favorite way to spend a day is walking the coastline here. There is a beautiful memorial to those lives lost in WWI. The clifftop walkway starts at the Strzelecki Lookout to Bar Beach.

Alternatively, stroll from the cruise port of Newcastle along the boardwalk to Nobby’s Beach and lighthouse. You should even be able to spot dolphins riding the surf here.

Newcastle is surrounded by many beautiful regions of New South Wales. Port Stephens, our absolute favorite, is just a one-hour bus ride away.

Think pristine beaches, magical sand dunes, and stunning national parks. Choose between 4 wheel-drive in buggies, sandboarding in the dunes, whale-watching boat tours, horseback or camel riding, or diving and snorkeling. Welcome to a piece of paradise!

Cruise Day 13: Arrival in Sydney, Australia

Last, by no means least, your cruise ship will dock in Sydney. What a fantastic way to finish your cruise. Sydney is, quite simply, a wonderful city of year-round sunshine, sitting beside a glistening harbor.

Wake up early, before your ship docking time, and enjoy breakfast on the outside terrace at the back of the ship. The sight of Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge as you sail into the harbor will stay with you forever. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience!

After disembarking, head for the taxi area, clearly signposted by the dock. The port is located in Sydney Harbour, close to the city center. If you have booked one of our recommended hotels in Sydney, the journey will not take more than about 10 minutes, or you can even walk. 

You may not be able to check into your hotel room immediately (often check-in is around 2 pm) but ask at reception if your room is ready. If not, leave your luggage in the care of the concierge and head out for a tour of the town by foot.

We have excellent tips on how to spend your post-cruise days in Sydney on our Sydney page, including:

Live, breathe and enjoy this wonderful city for four days before heading to the airport for your journey home. Your hotel can pre-book a taxi for you for your transfer to the airport. Just let them know what time you must check in.

Need more tips on cruising? We’re here to help!

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Meet the author: With more than 20 years experience from the travel industry, Mattias offers tips, expert advice and a unique perspective anchored in having worked with market leading cruise lines, tour operators, consolidators, airlines and hospitality suppliers. Read more..