For the second year, P&O Australia have positioned the Pacific Eden in Adelaide for a six week period allowing South Australian travellers the opportunity to experience a cruising holiday right from our own back yard.
Departing from Outer Harbour, Adelaide residents have finally been given the opportunity to take a cruise without the additional expense of a flight to reach the departure point.
The cruises on offer have been short three or four night breaks with destinations including Port Lincoln, Kangaroo Island, Melbourne or Nowhere! We opted for the nowhere destination - and we loved it.
The Sea Breaks are themed with additional non-ship based entertainers on board for the weekend. In 2016 we took a Food and Wine Cruise over Easter and backed it up the following weekend with a Comedy Cruise.
In 2017 we could not resist and once again headed to Outer Harbour on a Friday lunch time and sailed up and down the coast for the weekend on another Comedy Cruise. The cruise had us landing back in port on Monday morning bright and early enough to get to work and school for the day.
The Sea Break cruise is a great way to travel with friends and family. In 2016 we had more than 30 people in our travelling party, in 2017 a group of 20. And Adelaide being Adelaide, we of course bumped into people on the ship that we knew and did not even know were going to be there!
Cruise bookings generally average groups of eight people, cruising is always more fun when you have friends and family on board. With the concept of weekend cruising new to Adelaide it was great to be able to enjoy the trips with larger groups of people we knew. Other travellers obviously also got that memo as there were clear groups of hens and bucks nights on board as well as groups of work colleagues on weekend seminars at sea.
As a family, having other families on board with kids was a great bonus. Miss 7 and Master 10 had a posse of friends and cousins to keep them entertained. Whilst my little travellers love kids club regardless, it added an extra element of enjoyment for them to have their mates on the journey. They were able to build special memories such as singing Karaoke with their mates - something they would never usually do.
For mum and dad it meant more adult dinners and time to enjoy the late night comedy and other live entertainment around the ship. Even the option of relaxing and soaking up the sun with a cocktail in the Adults Only pool deck!
If you have never cruised before, a Sea Break is a great option to try your sea legs. If you have cruised before, the Sea Break out of a home port is a perfect excuse for a weekend away!
Your weekend cruise fare includes your accommodation, all your meals and your entertainment. A night out in a nice Adelaide restaurant, a show at the Fringe and a hotel in town would nearly cost you the same!
The Pacific Eden is in Adelaide until early April 2017 when it then heads to Fremantle. The ship will be back in Adelaide in February 2018 for an even longer season with further options for cruising out of Adelaide including a return trip to Tasmania.
For prices and itineraries, head to the P&O Australia website.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
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Elephant Encounters - tick it off the bucket list
The elephant is a majestic animal. It moves slowly and makes you consider for a short moment the possibility that such a ginormous animal could actually be gentle! However it is a powerful animal that is to be treated with respect.
Throughout our travels we have had a number of occasions to get up close and personal with the amazing creatures. If treated kindly and with respect all travellers should take the opportunity to tick this off their bucket list.
Three incidents that stand out from our travels include losing a pack of elephants at Lalibela Game Reserve, South Africa, trekking on elephants along the Zambezi River and our family ride on the elephants at Bakit Safari, Thailand.
Thailand, Bukit Safari
On a family visit to Cape Panwa, Thailand, we took a day trip to the Bukit Safari. The Itchy Feet Family were young, Miss 2 and Master 5 in tow we decided that would not be a barrier to the adventure.
The elephants have a bench seat attached atop and once on board the kids could easily sit alongside or on parent’s knees.
The adventure was not really that adventurous - we were on a private reserve where the elephants were kept and the actual time spent atop the elephants was through the grounds of the reserve. The biggest adventure was maintaining balance atop the bench seat as the animal waddled from side to side along some uneven grounds.
The kids got to feed the baby elephants before we rode the adults and the whole experience is one that is fondly remembered.
Lalibela Game Reserve, South Africa
You would think that a herd of elephants would be quite an easy find - however on a four day visit to the Lalibela Game Reserve, South Africa, the herd on the private reserve were aloof during our stay.
Every morning the Rangers would inform us that they were still unsure the exact location of the herd and it would be unlikely we would get to spot them during our visit.
Thankfully, on our last afternoon as we relaxed by the pool, the herd came within eye shot of the reserve The afternoon’s safari was to get amongst the herd and all the visitors were pleased they had come out of hiding!
The first point of call for the afternoon safari was to the elephants and we were treated to a close encounter amongst the herd who, incidentally, had a baby in tow that they kept very protected. An amazing insight into the power of a mother’s protective nature even amongst the animal world.
For the evening safari an adverse reaction to malaria tablets forced me to sit out - which in turn ended up being a blessing. The herd actually came through the camp, I was able to sit very quietly in the dark on the porch of my villa as they passed me by. I missed out on seeing the lion cubs that were seen on the night safari, but my close encounter with the herd is a memory I will forever treasure.
Trekking the Zambezi River
On a stay at Victoria Falls, we visited the Zambezi Elephant Trails. This is more an elephant experience than a simple elephant ride. Participants are encouraged to interact with the elephants I even reluctantly sat on the elephants leg whilst it wrapped it’s trunk around me in a hug.
Unlike the Thailand experience, these elephants are saddled which made for a much more comfortable and stable experience atop - well until the elephant shakes as our elephant dubbed the “dancer” did frequently!
With armed rangers on foot at the front and rear of our line of elephants, we trekked along the Zambezi in search of game sightings. Thankfully the rangers did not need the arms they beared but it certainly made you realise that we were on safari and perhaps the top of an elephant was not quite as safe as the inside of a jeep!
Have you had a memorable elephant experience? Share with us in the comments.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
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Christmas Cruising - the Pros and Cons
As a regular cruiser, I like to explore every corner of the ship. I love the idea of having a spa at sea where you can indulge in beauty and health treatments but often find them to be very overpriced.
P&O cruise ships Eden and Aria offer an area on the ship called the Thermal Suites, other cruise ships offer similar such areas. The Suites on the Eden and Aria offer, for a price, access to a sauna, 2 x steam rooms, mineral spa, heated relaxation lounges and a relaxation room with comfortable day beds and refreshments.
On a recent 12 night cruise the ship was offering a limited number (they said 20 - but I think they may have sold a few more than that) of all access passes for the entirety of the cruise for $199 for a single $299 for a couple. So I decided to try them out!
But was it worth it ? Here are the pros and cons - you decide……..
Pros of Thermal Suites
1. A Hot Tub with No Children
The Aria and Eden offer an adults only area - Oasis - however there is no hot tub, only a pool, in this space. I like to refer to the main pool deck hot tubs as bowls of children soup! Don’t get me wrong, I like children - I even have two under 10 of my own - but in a hot tub I would rather not indulge in children’s soup.
The Thermal Suite pass gave access to a mineral bath that nine times out of ten I got to use on my own. With only a limited number of people allowed access to this area, it made for a nice way to relax at the end of the day. The Suites were open from 8am to 8pm every day.
2. Peace and Quiet
The last cruise we did was a NYE cruise which meant there was a pretty lively crowd on board and many late nights to be had. It was nice to have a semi-private space to simply chill and relax away from the crowds and the masses. With only a limited number of passes on sale it meant many times there was not even anyone else in the area. It was like a private oasis.
The relaxation room offered inviting day lounges with wall to ceiling windows to sit and watch the sea roll by. Couple that with a herbal tea or a fruit infused ice cold water and it made for an inviting quiet space.
3. Steam and Sauna
With all the calories consumed on a cruise the steam and sauna gave easy access to sweat some of them out. A dry sauna was always my first point of call followed by an aromatherapy sauna. Great way to sweat out the alcohol!
Whilst I would have loved to spend hours in the Thermal Suites, the reality is I never quite got around to it. With port days and fun filled activities on sea-days I barely managed to squeeze in an hour a day. However I did make a point of visiting every day - even if for a quick 30 minute thermal bath.
2. No Products to Use
When the Suites are shown on the first day of the cruise there were lovely scrubs on display near the showers. Many of us got the impression that they would be made available for the duration of the cruise - however that was not the case. You do however receive a take-home pack of the scrubs when you sign up - which of course you could make use of during the cruise. Of the 12 night cruise, only on one day were any beauty products/scrubs made available for use - which of course I took full advantage of.
3. I Felt Lazy
Laying on a thermal tiled lounge for any length of time made me just want to go to sleep! If you want to completely wind down, switch off and relax this is the place for you. I am generally a bit more active on my holidays so I felt a bit lazy spending time just relaxing. (ok this is not really a con - I just could not think of a third one to balance the article!).
Have you ever used Thermal Suites - or Private Spa areas on a cruise ship? What did you think? Would you indulge again…..
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
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Penny, an avid Trip Advisor Reviewer, is the author of ITCHY FEET FAMILY. A family living in Adelaide, Australia, and taking every opportunity to travel and explore the world.