A weekend at sea is a great idea - what better way to switch off and unwind than jumping on a cruise ship from your home town and sailing up and down the coast for the weekend whilst your every need is taken care of.
Since cruise ships started visiting Adelaide a few years ago we have taken advantage of this opportunity to cruise without the need to fly first to the east coast - and what a new world of travel it has opened up.
Whilst those in Brisbane, Sydney and Perth have enjoyed this opportunity for many more years than little old Adelaide, the weekend cruises departing either on a Friday or Saturday for a three night getaway for us have included trips such as a weekend to nowhere, comedy cruise weekend and a girls trip.
Our most recent adventure was the P&O Food and Wine Cruise - one of the last cruises on the Pacific Eden before it sailed to Singapore to be handed over to new owners (who incidentally have purchased it to return to Adelaide!- watch for the new badged CMV cruises).
So what does a weekend Food and Wine cruise entail? And what can you expect from the experience. Apart from all the great incentives of a cruise that we already know and love - here are some of the highlights that a Food and Wine Cruise offers.
Well the theme of the cruise kind of gives this one away - but there really is a great showcase of wines onboard for you to experience. And best of all - no one has to be the designated driver!
Although South Australia is rich in wine resources, I really enjoyed trying out the wine tasting session from Perth’s Margaret River Region. With a representative from Watershed Wines on board to take us through the tasting notes and the history of the winery this session opened a new variety to me otherwise unknown.
There were a number of food and wine pairing classes on offer over the weekend. Cheese and wine, Egyptian food and wine were just a few. At $16 pp it included four wines matched with a sample of food to open the discussion of how wine can change the taste of food and vice versa.
If you are a budding chef - or even a real one - the ship had a full demonstration kitchen where guests chefs shared tips and tricks. Onboard for our cruise was Chef Dyna Eldaief from Taste of Egypt who showcased Egyptian cooking.
Dyna presented a conversational workshop talking about her experiences on the television reality show MasterChef, whilst showcasing some simple Egyptian dishes that all the passengers could go home and prepare. So simple were they that I even got up on the stage and joined her! If you prefer to participate than simply observe take the opportunity when a volunteer is called for and you will get an up close and personal cooking class from a renowned chef. Where else would you have that opportunity!
Chef Prue Daly from Grass Tree Kitchen was also onboard who presented a Sensational Seafood Masterclass and Canapes to Entertain. So no matter what your culinary taste, there was a good range of cooking demonstrations available over the weekend.
On our cruise cheese deserves a special mention as it was a feature in itself. Peter Gross from Black Pearl Epicure was onboard and he proved to essentially be a walking encyclopaedia for all things cheese. He was so passionate about his cheese and his knowledge was second to none.
We enjoyed a cheese and wine pairing session that Peter guided us through and for those that really love their trivia he also hosted a Food and Wine Trivia.
We learned how to pick a great cut of camembert and what the actual difference between Brie and Camembert is (apparently not much at all but a bit of an extra helping of cream in the Brie). I was even convinced by Peter to step out of my comfort zone and try a Blue cheese. I still did not enjoy it - but I did at least give it a go seeming I had a glass of red to wash it down with!
Even if you don’t love your wine - there was no discrimination against the beer drinker with options of “Hops and Malt” Beer tasting with The Beer Diva Kirrily Waldhorn and a Food and Beer Pairing class. Additionally a Beer and Cheese Tasting was on offer.
Add to this the usual mixology classes that you can always expect on a cruise and there was no shortage of drinks on offer for passengers no matter what their taste.
The food and wine options were sprinkled throughout the daily list of activities and at night the entertainment returned to what is usually on offer with a cruise - theatre shows, movies, themed parties and great restaurants to try a new bottle of wine with.
Have you ever taken a Food and Wine weekend cruise - what were your highlights? Leave a comment to let us know about your experience.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
When travelling there are so many different options and styles to accommodation. From budget hotels to independent Air BNBs to fancy resorts and five star hotels We’ve just about tried them all - and always happy to give something new a go.
Although not on purpose - we have even managed to stay at a few memorable quirky themed hotels. And whilst we didn’t particularly go out of our way to stay in them, they just happened to have a good rate on the day we were in town, they have certainly left a lasting memory.
Here are a four quirky themed hotels that you may want to try on your travels that have left an impression with us.
StayPineapple Hotel - Seattle
Yes you read it right, there is a pineapple themed hotel! Why, I really could not answer, but we have stayed there! In fact there are a chain of StayPineapple Hotels across the USA with the newest addition opening in New York’s Midtown Manhattan.
From the moment you first step foot in the lobby there is no mistaken the obsession here with pineapples. In the afternoon the lobby features signature pineapple cupcakes and pineapple infused water to greet arriving guests and the walls are adorned with pineapple themed artwork.
From the subtle print of the pineapple on your room key, through to the pineapple sticker on the toilet paper roll to the more obvious pineapple embroidery on the pillows and slippers, there is a lot of yellow going on in this hotel.
And if you like to travel with your pooch, these boutique hotels are dog obsessed and your canine companion is always welcome. For more details, visit the StayPineapple website.
Nickelodeon Suites - Orlando
When our son was young we took a trip to Orlando, Florida and ended up staying in the Nickelodeon Suites. We booked the hotel as it had a great rate and it provided apartment type accommodation - but the added bonus was the Nickelodeon theme.
The centre of the resort homed a massive water splash park and every afternoon the splash bucket would be filled with the trademark Nickelodeon green slime for a good old slime splash session! What more could you ask for than being dumped with green slime - right!
The rooms featured pictures of Nickelodeon stars on the walls and there was a themed breakfast in the restaurant where you could dine with Spongebob and Dora. Unfortunately our son was terrified of the giant characters walking around - but many kids loved getting up close and personal with Diego.
This resort is no longer operating as Nickelodeon Suites, it is now a Holiday Inn, but the fantastic waterpark still remains.
Hard Rock Hotel - Mexico, Bali and Penang
We seem to have a bit of an affinity for the Hard Rock Hotel. Before children we would always seek out Hard Rock Cafe’s in every city we visited, we even have a quirky collection of Hard Rock Hotel hurricane glasses from across the globe!
Since having the kids we tend not to buy the glass but instead have taken to staying in the themed resorts. So far we have tried the Hard Rock Hotels of Bali, Penang and probably our favourite the all inclusive resort in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
If you like your music memorabilia, these hotels certainly cater for that obsession. From a Jimmy Hendrix guitar to a Michael Jackson glove, the corridors are filled with framed bits and pieces from iconic popular culture.
The resorts offer a few signature extras such as the option to have a guitar in your room to use during your stay and in Bali the hotel featured a sound booth to record your own album.
Visit the Hard Rock Hotel Website for Details.
Peabody Hotel - Memphis
Now the name of this hotel really does not give any indication of the theme, which is why we were a bit surprised upon arrival - but this hotel is duck obsessed.
This charming southern hotel is home to some very pampered ducks who entertain international visitors every day with the Daily Duck March. At 11am and 5pm the Peabody Duck Master escorts five ducks as they ride down the elevator from their rooftop sleeping quarters to the lobby of the hotel where red carpet is laid out for them to parade their way to the atrium fountain.
Visitors line the red carpet and forward book tables in the restaurant for an up close and personal viewing of the internationally renowned spectacular.
The duck obsession is not contained to the lobby - the hotel room carries the theme through with duck embroidered linens and towels, duck shaped soap, ducks printed on the stationery and duck shaped pillow chocolates at your turn down service. In nearly every corner of your room you will find a duck weaved into the design.
Interesting fact that duck is strictly prohibited from being served in any of the hotels restaurants! Find more fun facts at the Peabody hotel’s website.
Have you ever stayed in a quirky themed hotel - let us know in the comments.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family