Get a taste of the land down under and wander the outback with some wallabies on this cruise around Australia and New Zealand. On days at sea, explore your ship, Noordam, with museum-quality art, cooking shows and hands-on workshops, BBC Earth Experiences and the satisfying sounds of Music Walk™. You will also have plenty of opportunities to socialize with other Friendship Force members during scheduled FFI sessions that are both educational and entertaining.
There is no home hospitality on his Journey, but your cabin will become your home for the next 14 days and you will have the opportunity to meet new friends from all over the world on your new floating neighborhood.
Live With a Local
- Kick off the cruise by spending the morning with FFI President and CEO, Jeremi Snook. Join his workshop to learn more about the future of Friendship Force, and get to know your fellow Friendship Force friends with fun activities.
- In the afternoon, join us for happy hour where we we will talk about best practices as you take a leadership role in your club.
- Participate in engaging workshops throughout the cruise. Here you’ll have the ability to ask any questions about Friendship Force and use your new friends as resources.
- On our last day at sea, we will have a farewell lunch as a group.
- Sydney's iconic Opera House
- Tasmanian vistas
- Milford Sound's breathtaking fiord
- Quaint streets of Wellington
- Verdant parks of Tauranga
I loved getting to know my fellow Friendship Force ambassadors and leaders on this Journey. I found the ‘soul mate’ activity [in which participants had to locate their “perfect match” during the cruise and have dinner with them] and ‘small group’ ideas intriguing. - 2018 Festival at Sea ambassador
2020 Festival at Sea Cruise to Australia and New Zealand
14 Days / 13 Nights Program and Itinerary:
February 1, 2020 – February 14, 2020
Coordinator: Laura Romero, FFI
All Friendship Force Itineraries are subject to change.
Feb. 1, 2020
If you want a snapshot of Australia’s appeal, look no further than Sydney: The idyllic lifestyle, friendly locals and drop-dead natural beauty of this approachable metropolis and its attractions explain why the country tops so many travelers’ wish lists. But Sydney is more than just the embodiment of classic antipodean cool—the city is in a constant state of evolution. A list of what to do in Sydney might start with the white-hot nightlife, with its new cocktail bars and idiosyncratic mixology dens. Inventive restaurants helmed by high-caliber chefs are dishing up everything from posh pan-Asian to Argentine street food, while the famous dining temples that put Sydney on the gastronomic map are still going strong too.
The famed harbor is among the top sights—home to twin icons the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, it is the stepping-off point for some of the city’s best cultural attractions and sightseeing. In one day you can sail around the harbor, get a behind-the-scenes tour of the opera house and climb the bridge, with time to spare for people-watching over a flat white at a waterfront café.
Speaking of water, when you plan what to do in Sydney, you will want to include the iconic beaches, where surfers, office workers and tourists alike converge on some of the most gorgeous shoreline scenery anywhere. Bondi, Bronte and Clovelly are all within easy reach of the Central Business District, as is Manly, a charming seaside town located a short ferry ride from Circular Quay. Beyond the city you’ll discover UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the chance to encounter Australia’s cuddliest wildlife—a perfect way to round out your envy-inducing Sydney photo collection.
Feb. 2, 2020
Day at sea
Friendship Force sessions
Feb. 3, 2020
Tasmania, once the butt of many jokes, is finally cool. The little Australian island is home to stunning landscapes, old-growth forests and exceptional local produce. Lording over all this goodness is Hobart, the island’s creative capital. Although its remoteness might once have made it feel provincial, the city has truly come into its own in recent years. It’s got one of the world’s best museums of contemporary art, vibrant markets, a cosmopolitan dining scene and eclectic music festivals. It’s also achingly beautiful, with a natural harbor setting and rugged Mount Wellington looming in the background.
The city is compact enough to easily explore on foot. Start at the sandstone area of Salamanca Place with its hip galleries, artist studios and bustling cafés and bars, and then roam the quaint streets of Battery Point, one of Hobart’s oldest neighborhoods. Immerse yourself in nature at the gorgeous Botanical Gardens or head out of town to learn more about Tasmania’s dark—but fascinating—past. Fuel up on the freshest seafood straight from the Southern Ocean down at the waterfront, or feast on gourmet Tassie produce at one of the many excellent restaurants in town. Whatever you choose to do, we promise you won’t be bored.
Feb. 4, 2020
Day at sea
Friendship Force sessions
Feb. 5, 2020
Day at sea
Friendship Force sessions
Feb. 6, 2020
Milford Sound, or Piopiotahi (its name in Maori), sits on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island and was first called the Eighth Wonder of the World by none other than Rudyard Kipling, who had seen some pretty wonderful places. As you sail up the 15-kilometer-long (nine-mile-long) sound, with soaring snow-topped peaks looming above—the tallest reaches an altitude of 1,517 meters (4,977 feet)—you’ll understand Kipling’s enthusiasm.
Although it is called a sound, it is technically a fjord—a narrow inlet created by glacial erosion over thousands of years. While its geological history is long, its human history is not. It is believed that the Maori first explored the sound, and the rest of the area that is now part of Fiordland National Park, around 1,000 years ago; Captain Cook followed in 1770. But neither Maori nor Europeans created permanent settlements of any significance, and the land was pristine when Fiordland National Park, New Zealand’s largest national park, was established in 1952. While many walking trails cross the park, the most breathtaking views are arguably those from the water, with the sheer rock faces looming above your ship as you sail through this majestic landscape.
Every year, visitors flock to New Zealand in search of landscapes straight out of Middle Earth. They find what they’re looking for in Fiordland National Park, on the southwestern coast of the South Island. This stunning 12,000-square-kilometer (4,633-square-mile) park encompasses mountains, lakes, fjords and rain forests. The area was once the home of Maori hunters; later, European whalers established small settlements here. But mostly, this region has seen a notable lack of human activity—the steep peaks and wet landscape deterred all but the hardiest people. That changed around the end of the 19th century, when travelers discovered the beautiful scenery of Fiordland. The national park was formally established in 1952.
Countless plant and animal species find a haven here. Among the park’s rare birds is the flightless takahe, thought for decades to be extinct until it was spotted in the area in 1948. The natural wonders continue offshore: Seals, dolphins and whales frequent these waters.
Friendship Force sessions
Feb. 7, 2020
Much of New Zealand feels like England, by way of Polynesia. There are a few exceptions, though, such as the town of Akaroa, a former French settlement, and the distinctly Scottish city of Dunedin, named after the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh. After Dunedin was founded in 1848, city surveyor Charles Kettle attempted to impose Edinburgh’s New Town grid plan on the growing city. But the Otago Peninsula’s hilly landscape proved challenging—for evidence, note that Dunedin has one of the world’s steepest streets (Baldwin Street). The volcanic remnants around the harbor make for a dramatic backdrop.
Dunedin’s prominence during the gold rush in the late 19th century resulted in many grand Victorian and Edwardian buildings. Thanks to the beautiful University of Otago (the country’s oldest), there’s a large student population to keep the city vibrant and modern. But Dunedin’s heritage is always proudly on display: The magnificent Dunedin Railway Station and Larnach Castle have been restored to their full glory, and the fascinating Toitu Otago Settlers Museum provides a glimpse into the lives of early residents. Outside the city, the Otago Peninsula is lined with scenic beaches and home to rare birdlife like the royal albatross and yellow-eyed penguin.
Feb. 8, 2020
With a distinctly continental flair, which stands out against the country’s Maori roots and British colonial history, Akaroa is New Zealand’s only town to have originally been established by the French and is the oldest European settlement on the South Island. French settlers first arrived in 1840 only to discover that the British had been granted dominion of the country after the Treaty of Waitangi, but the French remained and left their mark. The long harbor of Akaroa sits along the Banks Peninsula, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Christchurch, sheltered by the crater of an extinct volcano. The bays surrounding the village have an especially high degree of biodiversity, including the largest colony of little penguins on New Zealand’s mainland and the only natural habitat of Hector’s dolphin, the smallest and rarest of that mammal family. The region’s volcanic history also makes for dramatic geological formations, bucolic high-country farms and dazzling blue waterfronts. Should you stay within the picturesque town, you can stroll the historic rues, marveling at the colonial architecture, enjoying the French-inspired and Kiwi-made cheeses and wine, and soaking up the stunning scenery.
Feb. 9, 2020
Tucked into the northeastern end of the South Island – just 29 kilometers (18 miles) north of Bleinheim and 109 kilometers (68 miles) east of Nelson—the petite and picturesque port town of Picton is your starting point for exploring the region of Marlborough. This seaside gateway with ferry service to the North Island connects the majestic maritime beauty known as Queen Charlotte Sound to the luscious wine country of Marlborough, heaven for sauvignon blanc lovers. From the gluttonous to the active, there’s something for everyone, be it traversing a portion of the 70-kilometer (43-mile) stretch of the extraordinary Queen Charlotte Track—New Zealand’s greatest coastal cycleway—on foot or by bike, going on a cycle winery tour or tasting the famous green-lipped mussels that are indigenous to Marlborough Sounds. Naturalists should dust off their binoculars and explore the nearby wildlife sanctuaries, or if inclined to luxury, get up close and personal to a falcon while sipping on a glass of wine at the Brancott Estate.
Don’t neglect the tiny harbor town of Picton (population 4,000) itself either, which has quaint cafés and shops and boasts unique aquatic-themed museums, like the Edwin Fox Maritime Museum, dedicated to a historic ship which has seen most of the world in its more than 150 years.
Feb. 10, 2020
New Zealand’s cool little capital is located at the southern tip of the North Island, meaning it’s blessed with a beautiful waterfront, fresh seafood and unpredictable weather. So famously tempestuous is Windy Welly that visitors quickly learn not to go outside without an umbrella and will spend more time than usual talking about the weather. Politics is a hot topic too, with government workers buzzing about the Beehive, as the distinctive Parliament building is colloquially known.
Wellington is also known for culture and cuisine. Learn about Maori history and Kiwiana at Te Papa, the national museum; go behind the scenes of the Lord of the Rings movies made in Wellywood; and wash down a plate of chilled bluff oysters with a crisp sauvignon blanc at a Cuba Street restaurant.
Gourmands are spoiled for choice with the city’s many coffee microroasteries, craft breweries, innovative chefs and artisanal markets. Fortunately for your waistline, it’s also a terrific city for walking, hiking and cycling, with a compact historic core hugged by green hills and dotted with impossibly perched houses. They say you can’t beat Wellington on a good day—but visitors will soon discover that even if it’s wet and windy, it’s always a good day to be in Wellington.
Feb. 11, 2020
The Southern Hemisphere’s answer to Miami Beach—at least when it comes to Art Deco architecture—Napier has a perfect mix of natural and manmade beauty. The historic district, which was mostly constructed in the 1930s after a massive earthquake and subsequent fires destroyed the city in 1931, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. As a delicious bonus, there’s a thriving food and wine scene, too. Surrounded by the rolling vineyards of the Hawke’s Bay wine region and edged by pristine waters, Napier has attracted a host of culinary innovators that has put it on the foodie map over the past two decades. Nature lovers, too, are drawn by this North Island city’s scenic splendor and abundant wildlife. Down the coast, colonies of Australasian gannets thrive at Cape Kidnappers. Within the city, Norfolk Island pines line the seafront Marine Parade, a half dozen parks and gardens bloom from September to March (spring and summer Down Under), there are forested hiking trails and active pursuits range from cycling to golf. It’s easy to enjoy yourself while soaking up Hawke’s Bay’s spectacular landscape.
Feb. 12, 2020
The curved shoreline of the Bay of Plenty—known in Maori as Te Moana-a-Toi—is home to incredible surfing, white-sand beaches and New Zealand’s only active marine volcano. Tauranga, with 130,000 residents, is the largest city on the Bay of Plenty and fifth largest in New Zealand. The city offers visitors a number of water-focused activities, like sailing and kayaking, as well as drier alternatives such as shopping and people-watching at a café in the Historic Village.
Tauranga is also a great jumping-off point for exploring nearby beaches and Te Puke, the kiwifruit capital of the world, as well as a wealth of Maori cultural sites. The world-famous geothermal wonderland of Rotorua, nicknamed Sulfur City, has been a major Polynesian spa resort town since visitors first arrived in the late 1800s. In Maori, roto means lake and rua means two, but Rotorua actually comprises 18 lakes—plus an incredible redwood forest.
For the best views, take the gondola up to Skyline Rotorua, a recreation complex atop Mount Ngongotaha. Other day trips you should consider are a boat ride through the incomparable glowworm caves of Waitomo or an unforgettable tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata—a must for all Tolkien fans.
Feb. 13, 2020
A steaming offshore crater would qualify as a must-see highlight in most countries, or so you might think as you cruise up to the stunning, 321-meter-high (1,053-foot-high), circular White Island stratovolcano (that is, a many-layered cone). But because it’s in New Zealand, where it competes with natural wonders from the famous Southern Alps to dramatic fjords, White Island can sometimes be overlooked.
Roughly 48 kilometers (30 miles) off the North Island and tucked into a coastal bowl created by the Bay of Plenty, the volcano was long called Whakaari in Maori before it was “discovered” in 1769 by Captain James Cook. White Island belongs to New Zealand’s Taupo-Rotorua Volcanic Zone and is the country’s most active geothermal site, with countless steam vents and bubbling mud around a small lake. The eerie landscape is devoid of vegetation, while the sulfur that was mined here until 1914 today bleeds into the sea to create a vibrant orange trail. The island is a vital bird habitat, with thousands of noisy gannets perched in rookeries. Underwater reefs and vents provide a home for abundant fish life as well. All of this makes the private reserve equally popular with volcanologists and the general public.
Feb. 14, 2020
New Zealand’s biggest city deserves more than a layover. Auckland is multicultural and cosmopolitan, with sizeable Polynesian, Asian and Maori populations enriching its history and broadening the palate. Internationally known chefs and fashion designers have made neighborhoods like Ponsonby, Newmarket and Parnell world-class destinations for shopping and dining.
You’re never far from water attractions in New Zealand—and this is especially true in Auckland where it’s not unheard of for downtown workers to go kayaking on their lunch break. The once-gritty port has been transformed into inviting public spaces and buzzing nightclubs, with sailboat charters and regular ferry connections waiting to whisk visitors around the harbor for sightseeing.
Start your day sipping a flat white while you plan your explorations: art gallery crawl, winery tour or volcano hike? It’s possible to do all three without losing sight of the Sky Tower, one of Auckland’s top tourist attractions, from which you can get a bird’s-eye view of the gateway to Aotearoa.
$2134 USDPrice Includes:
Inside cabin starting at $2134
Ocean view cabin starting at $2354
Balcony cabin starting at $3024
Mid-ship balcony cabin starting at $3174
Friendship Force International provides opportunities to explore new countries and cultures from the inside by bringing people together at the personal level. Through the signature program of home hospitality, local hosts welcome international visitors into their culture, sharing with them meals, conversation, and the best sights and experiences of their region.