Cruising New Zealand, slipping through Milford Sound

After two days and three nights at sea from Tasmania on the southern tip of Australia, Celebrity Century plunged into Milford Sound at sunrise.

You would not want to sleep-in on the day that your cruise ship slips through the three sounds on New Zealand’s southwest coast, not if you want to see Milford, anyway.

Our tour from the sea to the end of the Milford fjord was only two hours, so we were back out to sea in plenty of time for a full breakfast.

The fjord is deep and wide enough for a big cruise ship to follow its twists into the mountains to the end, then turn around so passengers on both sides of the ship can marvel at mountain peaks and waterfalls.

The irony is that cruise passengers are the only quick visitors to Milford Sound, which is a four-day, hut-to-hut trek along the 33-mile Milford Track, or a serious drive from Queenstown, New Zealand.

Celebrity Century followed Milford with cruises later that morning through Doubtful and Dusky Sounds. Passengers said the New Zealand sounds reminded them of Alaska fjords but without as much wildlife, either land or sea creatures. The scenery is similar, steep mountains of rock on either side of the water, some peaks capped with snow.

Milford is the tightest, then Doubtful and Dusky, which is the longest in Fiordland National Park.

One historical note to consider: Today’s cruise ship passengers see the New Zealand fjords much the same way they looked to Captain James Cook during his discoveries on HMB Endeavor in 1769-1770.

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