Over the years Jill and I have done a few cruises. The first was on P&O’s Pacific Sky way back when we were just barely dating. So long ago in fact, that the boat ceased operating in Australia back in 2006. And we were on it well before that. The cruise we did was fairly unremarkable and was pretty standard as far as east coast Australian Cruises go. We flew to Sydney and hopped on a 7-9 night cruise that took in Port Vila, Noumea and some of the smaller islands. Sometimes this is mystery island, as seen below, other times it may be Isle of Pines or Mare or any combination of those that may suit at the time. Over the years we had done a few of these types of things so have been to each of the islands in some way, shape or form.
As the years went on and our budget allowed we upgraded our cruising and were introduced to the Royal Caribbean Cruising Line. We have found this to be a really nice mid range cruising experience with a loyalty scheme that worked for us and as such we have stuck to this company. This is not a formal or paid endorsement of the company just a note that we are happy with it and it is the one we have chosen to have stuck with. That said, I would not hesitate to recommend it if asked.
A quick search of the internet shows that there are almost 1500 cruise ships operated by a myriad of companies that in turn own a number of ships and have bought out some of the smaller companies. Who owns what exactly, requires some serious digging. Digging that I am both unwilling and uninterested in doing. But there are cruise ships that take as few as 2 people and those that will cater to almost 7000. Suffice to say that there are so many cruises around, and they each cater to a different part of the market and a different price point. Find the one that works for you and give it a try.
Is cruising for me?
Some people hate the thought of cruising, and the idea of being trapped on a boat is their idea of horrible. And for them then that is OK. But I don’t see it that way. The modern cruise ship has something for everyone. You can opt in or opt out of the activities it is your choice. If you so choose you can fill your day fully with things to do or alternatively there is plenty of space available to find quiet time if you seek it. Obviously the main pool deck is bedlam in the middle of the day, as is the main buffet near the pool deck at lunch time (something that we have affectionately titled the Bali Bogan Buffet). So if you don’t like the crowds avoid these at peak times.
However, in the early evening the first dinner sitting is on and the kids are off being fed, so the pool deck can be serene and peaceful with beautiful sunset views that you can have almost to yourself. Similarly in the mornings the influencer crowds have yet to surface from their partying all night. So you can have a lovely stroll around the decks before they emerge from their alcohol and partying induced haze with their botox’d lips and other bits to flaunt their grotesquely altered bodies for the masses in an attempt to gain attention. The kids typically have kids club and for those like me who don’t particularly like the noise and screaming, there is usually an adults only area where children are not allowed on the Royal Caribbean it is the peace and quiet that is the Solarium. This is both quieter and much more pleasant for grumpy old buggers like me.
But the most important thing about cruising… is who you do it with. With the right people and the right attitude cruising is a dream. We have found ourselves the perfect little cruising group that fall in and out of cruises as it suits each of us. Jill and I are clearly on the less frequent end than many of the others, but the personalities when we get together just gel together nicely and a great time is had by all. The first two in the cruising group for us is Jeremy and Claudia. For those that have been reading along they have already featured on numerous occasions and are long term friends. This core is added to by some more hardcore cruisers with Wayne and Chrissy (Chrissy being Claudia’s sister).
From here the group widens to include Wayne’s sister (Karen) and mother (Marg). And then there is always the odd blow in that you will meet on a cruise or that will drop in and out of a cruise (I am sure that the more regular cruisers regard us this way but hey). So the next thing to know about cruising is that there are 2 types of people.
Type 1 – these are the people that see the boat as transport and abide the sailing bits to get to the destinations and get off to run around and see stuff.
Type 2 – this is me. We are the ones that see the cruise as the destination and that the stops are just there to keep the feeble minded amused.
Neither type is necessarily right or wrong but there does tend to be a never the twain shall meet with these two mindsets. For Type 1 short cruises with lots of stops are the best while for Type 2 long relocation style cruises (between one season and the next) are the go. We did a relocation cruise a few years ago from Sydney to Singapore and it was lovely. The boat had been operating in Australia the over summer and had finished the season and was off to Singapore to do the next few months there. The cruise was long periods of quiet time with some stops in Brisbane and Darwin and that was about it.
What can I expect on the cruise?
There will be towel art. Do not be surprised to find strange animals infesting your rooms throughout the journey. Often they will be wearing your hat or sunglasses or any other random item you may have left lying around your stateroom. But some of them are amazing and others reflect the personalities of your room attendants. Either way they tend to be a bit of fun – just go with it.
There will be quirks…
This one is the seemingly magical robot barman titled the Bionic Barman. Some ridiculously expensive robot arms will make you the cocktail (or mocktail) of your choice while providing entertainment in the process.
You still have a dude checking for ID and cleaning up after the robots (they are pretty messy at times) but the process is fairly entertaining to watch.
The staff will be amazing. Coming from Australia the customer service experience is typically pretty poor. We just are not a culture that is used to expecting (or even demanding) decent levels of service. We pay a fair wage so do not have a tipping culture, however if people do a great job we are not averse to leaving a tip. Cruise ships typically operate all over the world and service levels are higher than we are used to – meaning that they are super attentive, friendly and helpful. Don’t get me wrong – some people will still find reason to complain – but I think that this says more about the complainers than it does about the cruise ship staff or service.
So we have booked in several cruises over this part of our itinerary. The first is just a short 4 day number to get us to a level higher on our cruising status (kind of like frequent fliers within a cruising context). The second cruise is on the cards as we have always wanted to visit Iceland however the cost is typically prohibitively expensive and by all accounts the food (pickled and salted fish) is not that thrilling.
|June 2023||Iceland||13||Amsterdam, Reykjavik, Isafjordur, Seydisfjordur, Belfast, Liverpool, Cork, Amsterdam|
|July 2023||Alaska||8||Seward, Hubbard Glacier, Juneau, Skagway, Haines, Icy Straight, Ketchikan, Inside Passage, Vancouver.|
|Oct/Nov 2023||Atlantic Crossing||13||Rome, Cartagena (Spain), Lanzarote (Canary Islands), Gran Canaria (Canary Islands), Miami Florida.|
|Nov 2023||Caribbean||10||Miami, Puerto Planta (Dominican republic), San Juan (Puerto Rico), Basseterre (St Kitts & Nevis), Bridgetown (Barbados), Fort De France (Martinique), Phillipsburg (St Maarten), Miami|
|Nov/Dec||Caribbean||12||Miami, Georgetown (Grand Cayman), Falmouth (Jamaica), Cartagena (Colombia), Oranjestad (Aruba), Willemstad (Curacao), Miami.|
|Dec 2023 |
|South America||26||Miami, Cococay (Bahamas), Cozumel (Mexico), Oranjestad (Aruba), Willemstad (Curacao), Kralendijk (Bonaire), Bridgetown (Barbados), St Georges (Grenada), Devils Island (French Guiana), Fortaleza (Brazil), Recife (Brazil), Copacabana Beach (Brazil), Montevideo (Uruguay), Buenos Aires (Argentina).|
|Jan 2024||Antarctica||18||Buenos Aires (Argentina), Puerto Madryn (Argentina), Port Stanley (Falkland Island), Paradise Harbor (Antarctica), Elephant Island (Antarctica), South Shetlands (Antarctica), Cape Horn (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), Punta Arenas (Chile), Valparaiso-Santiago, (Chile)|
|Feb 2024||Caribbean||11||Miami, Puerto Limon (Costa Rica), Colon (Panama), Cartagena (Colombia), Oranjestad (Aruba), Willemstad (Curacao), Miami|
|Feb 2024||5||Miami, Nassau (Bahamas), Falmouth (Jamaica), Miami|