This is a special guest post by travel writer Scott Eddy, who recently cruised as a guest of Azamara.
Recently, I got to go on a 15-night expedition onboard the Azamara Quest, one of the ships owned by Azamara®. The adventure I was embarking on included travels to Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand. Going to all three of those destinations had always been on my bucket list, so I was eager to climb aboard and set sail.
My itinerary consisted of several cities in both countries. For the next two weeks, I would be enjoying the sights and cuisine in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia; Port Arthur and Hobart, Tasmania; and Milford Sound, Dunedin, Akaroa, Picton, Napier, Tauranga and Auckland, New Zealand.
When I wasn’t dining at the Chef’s Table or trying out new flavors of caviar, I made as many friends as I could—including Captain Carl. Some mornings, I was lucky enough to catch sunrises like the one below.
Early morning sunrise to begin my adventure at sea.
I got to meet the man of the ship, Captain Carl.
It was hard to choose my favorite. So good!
My adventures onboard the Azamara Quest began in Sydney, Australia, where I got to enjoy breakfast overlooking the Sydney Harbor Bay. From there we ventured to Port Arthur, which is located right at the Tasmanian Peninsula. Tasmania is filled with dense, green forests and history. The place is part of the Australian Convict Sites and what remains of a coalmine site and crumbling prisons. Rest assured, Port Arthur is very…arresting.
Couldn't leave Sydney, Australia, without some photos of the Azamara Quest and that skyline!
Ruins upon ruins of crumbling prisons.
I also hiked into the jungle and above the treetops with Tahune Airwalk. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to capture a photo of any Tasmanian devils, but I did get to photograph the amazing views from above the tree line.
The views from above the Tasmanian tree line are well worth the hiking expedition.
Tahune Airwalk consists of walkways just like this one that take you through the treetops.
The adventure didn’t stop there. After that, I got to witness a performance by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra at an AzAmazing Evening hosted by Azamara. It was quite the show, complete with instruments of all sorts and a fireworks finale.
The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra played an amazing show.
Did I mention that I also got to eat amazing food while the ship sailed from place to place? Azamara provides delicious complimentary menus at two specialty restaurants for suite guests, and for others, there’s only a $25 per-person cover. There is also a complimentary main dining room and buffet. I was lucky enough to have a seat at the Chef’s Table a few times. Although I can’t share the taste of all the fantastic cuisine I enjoyed, I at least have a few photos to give you an idea of how mouthwatering each meal was.
Roasted veal tenderloin with chili-spiked broccolini, sautéed patty pan squash, artichoke mostarda, pepper compotella, crisp black olive polenta and balsamic natural jus.
Lobster and avocado salad rolled in crisp Lebanese cucumber.
New potato crusted California sea bass.
As you can imagine, I enjoyed myself to the fullest extent even when I wasn’t exploring destinations. While we made headway on our expedition, I was mingling with new friends and old friends, sipping on bubbly while playing bingo (which is never a bad thing).
If I’m going to play bingo, I’m definitely going to make it fun!
When we finally arrived in New Zealand, I was awestruck. After living in Thailand for 11 years, I didn’t think it was possible for another country to top my Southeast Asian home. The sights of New Zealand, however, didn’t fail to prove me wrong.
We sailed into Milford Sound, which is one of New Zealand’s top tourist destinations. Even in the dense fog, the beauty of Milford Sound was spectacular. There’s truly nothing like it and there’s no wonder why some people have called it the ‘eighth wonder of the world. No matter where you look in Milford Sound, you’re greeted with majestic mountains and cascading waterfalls. It really was a sight to behold.
The views of Milford Sound in New Zealand from onboard the Azamara Quest.
Of course, no trip to New Zealand would be complete without a tour of the Lord of the Rings movie set in Tauranga. My good friend Lee Abbamonte and I ventured out to explore where they had filmed many of the fight and combat scenes. I didn’t get to visit the small village of Hobbiton with him, but I hear is very quaint and colorful. I still can’t believe that most of the filming for the movies occurred in just a small area of Tauranga.
Lord of the Rings was cool, but my favorite moments in New Zealand were spent sipping the fine wines in Picton and Napier. The Marlborough and Hawkes Bay regions are known for their wines, and the scenery surrounding each of the vineyards is just as amazing.
One of the vineyards I visited was owned by Allan Scott Family Winemakers. As Shakespeare once wrote, “What’s in a name?” And with a name like Allan Scott Family Winemakers, Allan Scott and his family have worked hard in order to grow the sweetest grapes and create the best wines in New Zealand. Some of the wines I tried included the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling and sparkling wine. I also got to meet Allan Scott himself, which was a privilege in and of itself.
The miles and miles worth of vineyards at Allan Scott Family Winemakers.
Starting the day off with a wine tasting.
Talk about dinner and a view!
Needless to say, the 16 days I spent on the Azamara Quest were filled with great memories. I not only got to see mind-blowing sights and indulge in a bit of adventure and fine dining, but also got to make new friends while reuniting with old friends. I loved every part of my journey aboard to the Australia and New Zealand, and eagerly await the next time I will get to set sail with Azamara.