I’ll be the first one to admit that I usually ‘frown upon’ cruisers! People who constantly go on Cruises, constantly talk about how much food they’ve eaten, the ‘Oh, there are so many activities for the kids’ and the ‘Cocktails at 1pm everyday’. For me, I’d personally prefer to go to a destination and stay put on LAND.
However, my beautiful Aunty (one of them) was turning 60 years old and as her gift to herself she was going on a Cruises. All of my Aunties (bar one) and of course my own beautiful mum was going, along with cousins and friends etc. I was asked to go just before we left on our big Aussie Adventure and thought WHY NOT. It would be a great chance to spend some QT with my mum and of course my extended family.
Big decision was NOT taking Lulu and Sarah. Money was certainly a factor, seeing how we would be flying to Sydney first (and have no more frequent flyer points) and also having had all this time off school already whilst we were traveling, I was thinking ahead and thought it would probably be a better idea to just take Frankie and besides, it’s ages away anyway.
HOW quick does a year go ? Very bloody quickly.. Before I knew it, I had to arrange passports, cruisewear, new bathers, preparing Frankie for the flight to Sydney – which thankfully my Dad came to visit us in Perth and he flew back with us – It was almost to go. In the middle of all this, we’d bought another house, moved in with boxes still everywhere. It was around about a week before we were due to fly out that I checked my flights and realised that I was going to be away for 19 days. I have only left the girls once before when Wayne and I went to Darwin for 2 nights. Of course, they’ve had sleepovers and ok I admit, I’ve gone to Sydney and Melbourne a couple of times without them also but only for about 3 nights. This was massive for me and for Lulu & Sarah who were suddenly not very happy with me.
So with a heavy heart I was packed and ready to go. The day before I went to the shops and bought the girls a present from me, and I also wrote them a little letter each that promised them LOTS of gifts upon my return !
Flight was pretty uneventful. Frankie had a few screams but mostly she was OK. Thank goodness that hurdle was over. (Have I mentioned before that I have NO control over this kid) !
I was staying with my younger sister and her family and my little niece was so excited to see Frankie. Cruise Fever was happening with my family. A quick visit to my Nans and it was starting to get a little more ‘real’. I had pretty much been very casual about the whole affair, and I hadn’t even read up on the destinations we were visiting. Terms like ‘sea days, ports, tenders’ hadn’t even crossed my mind. I quickly learned that not only was I a ‘first time cruiser’ (people actually ask you that question) maybe I hadn’t prepared properly ? I had money but NO small change for the ‘islands’ – who doesn’t use EFTPOS these days ? Turns out pretty much everywhere we visited, apart from Suva and Noumea (where I spent a small fortune on supposedly cheaper makeup). Oh well, no point worrying, I had a nail and spray tan appointment so the rest could just wait.. what will be will be.
The day of the Cruise was a beauty ! Sun was shining (actually out in St Marys the sun was blistering hot) We all made our way to my Aunty’s house for a Pre-cruise champagne breakfast. If you’re weren’t cruisin, you weren’t invited! Apart from girlfriends, our Nan and the husbands that were staying behind.
A little back history. I’ve been basically on a NO SUGAR (hate the word DIET) eating regime since November last year and I feel really good. I’ve eliminated so many foods from my diet and have found better ones, in saying this though when I go out to dinner with Wayne or friends, a b’day etc, I EAT CAKE AND LOTS OF It but as a general rule, I find it pretty easy to avoid pastries, cakes, soft drink etc. unless it’s a special occasion.
Back to present day. Everyone talks about 2 things on the SHIP. The food and the shops. I had already decided that I would be bringing back with me more than half my spending money, as I wanted to buy lamps and curtains for our new home. The shopping wouldn’t be a problem, a few gifts for the kids and some cocktails. That wasn’t the problem.
The FOOD however was going to be a little challenging seeing how it stares at you SMACK BANG in the face at every waking moment. I still convinced myself that I would be good and have dessert every 3rd night. Even that in itself was a lot for me but given that I was on a HOLIDAY I allowed myself to be a little cheeky. I was also concerned that I wouldn’t fit into a dress that I had bought specifically for my friends 40th who was having a party in Sydney the weekend I got back. So I figured that would be a big motivator also.
WRONG WRONG WRONG on so many levels ! But I digress.. the 2kilo’s that I put on can wait a minute (or months probably).
My Aunty’s Champagne breakfast was filled with Pastries and little quiches. I think I had 2 apple tart things because Frankie didn’t finish one. Not a good start but who cares right ? We were about to hop on board the bus that was taking us in to the city so we could start this CRUISE.
A million photo’s were taken, some with our bags, some without, some with us walking down the street WITH our bags and more “HA HA I’m going on a cruise and you’re not” happy snaps.
On the bus, everyone excited (especially about the new water park that is currently being built in prospect, the old Australia’s Wonderland site if anyone interested) and we finally arrive at our DESTINATION. There were 13 of us going on this cruise and with that many people it can be pretty hard to hear yourself think or make decisions. We pretty much just boarded in our own time when we were ready and met up on DECK 9. Checking in was very simple and quick. It wasn’t long before I was sipping a cocktail and looking at beautiful Sydney Harbour. Our rooms weren’t available to 2pm so we ATE. The food was all laid out, already paid for of course and it was there to ENJOY ! I was pretty good on the first day, and opted to have a Tuna and lettuce sambo..
We checked into our rooms, met the Sang the Steward who was looking after us and our Cabin and started unpacking. I was sharing a room with Mum and Frank and 4 of my Aunties were in the cabin next to us. In no time at all they had unpacked, and were ready to take a SPA. Took me a little longer to get organised then we went and explored the massive ship. It was a HUGE ship and I got lost the first couple of days.. We had to do the fire drill and escape talk and that took quite a while, after that was done we were already late for our first dinner !! We had the 5.30pm slot each night which was a good time for Frankie and I was envisioning getting dressed in my ‘evening cruise wear’ every night but my mum and I had no time to change so it was a quick dash to the Empire Dining Room to meet up with the rest of the family.
As we were a large group we got to sit at the Captains table each night and we had the most awesome 3 wait staff you could ever imagine. In fact we all fell in love with Serena from Romania and I was trying to plot a plan so she could come live with me or at the very least marry one of my cousins who are yet to be wed !!!! No such luck but she was amazing.
Dinner was amazing, great food and if there wasn’t anything on the menu that you liked, they would prepare something else for you. It was at this point that I thought Wayne would love this ! He can be a eating machine at times.
Can’t remember much of the first night, I’m pretty sure I left everyone to their activities and Frankie and I went back to the cabin, she was pretty tired and I had borrowed my cousins Game of Thrones book and I wanted to start that. Frankie took a while to sleep but then eventually she was out like a light.
Rather than detail every day and night I thought I would highlight my fav experiences.
Breakfast, morning tea, lunch, cocktails, dinner and then Dessert .. EVERY DAY AND EVERY NIGHT.
Getting dressed for dinner. I loved doing this as when I’m at home I usually am in tracksuit pants!
Steam room and the secret SPA that only a handful of people knew about.
The ‘Serenity Deck’ which is for over 18’s only. Unfortunately I didn’t get to spend a lot of time here, but the times I did it was very relaxing.
The Karoke Bar which I did NOT sing at, but a few of my family members did.
Spending time with Frankie and my Mum.
Now the shops on board are nothing special. A duty free store that is large and has specials CONSTANTLY and there was another surf shop/kids/giftware shop that also had SALES SALES SALES. I was able to avoid these shops until about Day 3 where I started venturing down there when there wasn’t much happening. I managed to get the girls a few things and I bought myself a watch (on sale of course) then I would find myself going down there after dinner one night. after lunch another day and very quickly it got out of control. 3 Diamond bracelets later, copious amounts of make up and a pair of decent sunnies for Wayne (and some clothes for me too I’ll admit) I had pretty much spent ALL of my money and I took a decent amount of $$ with me too. I kept checking my sail and sign account and everything was correct. It was crazy and I didn’t even manage to have a massage !!
The whole Cruise experience was different to what I had imagined in someways but it was also everything I imagined it would be in other ways too. What I LOVED was being able to spend a heap of time with my family. I have a beautiful funny warm caring family and they all loved Frankie and kept her entertained when I wanted some ‘time out’. I feel very lucky to have them in my life and I’m pleased that Frank got to spent so much time with them also.
Would I go again ? Not in a hurry but that is mainly because for Frankie’s age group there isn’t a lot on offer. They did have a kids club for her but she hated it and they called me to come get her after about 7 minutes. I never sent her back after that. There’s also not a lot of stuff to do that I would be interested in either. That’s not to say that the ship doesn’t have activities because it has zillions of them but I’,m just not into :
Bean Bag Tossing
Learning to Line Dance (sorry Aunty E and Aunty I)
Creative towel making
BUT lying on a deck chair, in the sun, watching the ocean sail by, sipping cocktails, going to the shows of an evening, listening to the music and different artists, knowing that the kids are being entertained… that’s my GIG and it’s pretty affordable when you weigh up the food and the activities that are on board too.
So, when Frankie is about 7yrs old we will probably go again. The plan is to fly to Hawaii first and have a holiday and then cruise back via Tahiti and NZ. I think the girls will love it and Wayne and I can enjoy some time together too.
Now here are some pics ! (needless to say I was very excited to be home again with my family – I missed them all so much & I did manage to fit into my dress too for Rene’es 40th with a little bit of help from SPANX !