Whilst a South Pacific cruise is mostly about relaxing, drinking cocktails and swimming there is more to do on the Island stops than just check out the local marine life.
If you are heading to the Isle of Pine and are after some physical activity and great views, there is an adventurous walk that takes you to a great summit that sadly very few cruise passengers venture to.
We have been to this island a couple of times and on both times enjoyed the walk. The first time, three years ago, we had planned to leave the kids at the beach with their grandparents whilst we tackled the mountain. However both the grandparents and kids decided they wanted to join us despite the fact that our then 5 and 8 year olds were wearing flip flops on their feet.
Our most recent visit on our 2017 Christmas Cruise aboard the P&O Dawn, the children now 8 and 11 years old were wearing appropriate footwear, carrying water bottles and wearing sunscreen and hats!
To access the walking track you follow the main road out of town and turn left at the intersection. About 200m down the road you will see a sign pointing you to Pic N’Ga that will take you to the off road walking track.
The walk starts through green lush forest like grounds and takes you along a stream that has only been dry when we have done the walk. I have read other reviews that have said this area can be quite muddy - both times we visited were in December.
About 300m off the road there is an official entrance with a donation box that the locals use to keep the track clear and signed for the tourists.
The walk along the stream is interesting, the kids watched out for any creepy crawlies lurking in the grasses but it made for a good adventure.
The walk then takes you onto rough grounds before going into a reasonably steep climb on gravel. This section is the hardest and it is very exposed with barely any shade along the way. It is important to take water, sunscreen and a hat as it can get very hot.
Once the incline is done, the views are amazing. You can see the ship, the beaches and the spectacular greenery of the island with uninterrupted views.
The walk is about a 4km round trip, is steep and loose ground in places, is exposed to the elements - but the views are worth it.
If you are after more than just markets and snorkelling on your trip to Isle of Pines, Pic N’ga is a great activity for the whole family young and old. And a great way to work up a sweat before you hit the beach for some awesome snorkelling!
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
Getting away for Christmas is a great option. Avoid all the stress and running around required at home and simply board a ship and get away. This year was our third Christmas cruise - we have written before about the Pros and Cons of Christmas Cruising having sailed on the Pacific Jewel in 2014 and Pacific Eden in 2015.
This year we opted for a 12-night Fiji and Vanuatu itinerary that sailed out of Brisbane on P&O’s Pacific Dawn which departed December 16, 2017.
Many people ask us if the ship does anything special for Christmas, for those considering a Christmas cruise, here are some of the the extras we experienced this year that made our trip Festive.
Passenger Christmas Choir
If you love your Christmas Carols and have always wanted to sing on a stage, here is your chance. The entertainment team recruited a passenger choir early on in the cruise and rehearsals were held on the sea days . A repertoire of Carols were performed on the main stage of the Marquee theatre in front of 400 odd passengers on Christmas Eve.
Kids Christmas Play
If you have children in the kids club they will also get the opportunity to perform in the Marquee theatre in front of a crowd of passengers. The kids club scheduled rehearsals for the children who had the opportunity to take part in a Christmas play performed on stage on Boxing Day. The play was a cute story about a little Christmas tree waiting to be picked from the woods and taken home to be a part of a family’s celebrations. Our daughter played a bird!
Family Christmas Fair
On Christmas Eve from 10am-12pm the Dome was transformed into a Christmas Fair for families to enjoy. Stations of activities were set up including face painting, wreath making, Christmas colouring and cookie decorating.
The kids club team conducted family games, ice-cream vouchers were handed out and families could opt in for a gingerbread house making competition. With only 10 minutes to construct and decorate a gingerbread house we failed dismally and opted for just piling on as many sweets and decorations as possible so we could eat it later! Needless to say we did not win that competition - we did get to eat the gingerbread house though!
For those wanting to celebrate the actual reason for Christmas, there was a catholic midnight mass and a Christmas morning non-denominational church service held.
The ship slowly became festive over the course of the cruise in the lead up to Christmas day. A display in the atrium of gingerbread houses and trees, the bars all had trees and decorations, the pantry came alive with gingerbread house displays and the waterfront restaurant had a great display that greeted everyone. All the staff wore Christmas hats and t-shirts and there was a really festive feel about the cruise.
Passengers also got into the spirit decorating cabin doors with wreaths, children’s drawings and even Christmas lights. We took it a step further and put tinsel up in the cabin and many passengers wore Festive t-shirts, hats and other outfits throughout the cruise. Top marks to the group of girls wearing the ugly Christmas jumper rashies.
Letters To and From Santa
At reception there was a Santa letter box set up with special paper for children to write letters to Santa. On Christmas Eve both our children received personalised letters on their beds in return from Santa, along with a towel animal of a reindeer!
Christmas Eve Carols
On Christmas Eve a special Christmas production was performed in the Marquee theatre with all the Christmas classics sung by the Entertainment staff. Passengers were all provided with song books and encouraged to join in the with the passenger choir when they took to the stage.
In the Atrium the crew also performed a few carols during the night to get everyone into the spirit of the Festive season.
Waterfront Christmas Menu
On Christmas Day the main restaurant, the Waterfront, presented a special Christmas menu. A traditional menu was served for dinner only (the restaurant was closed lunch on Christmas Day as we were ported in Port Villa). The menu included all the traditional offerings of Christmas ham, turkey with cranberry and Christmas pudding for dessert. The tables were set with bon bons and the staff all wore Christmas hats and were in a Festive mood.
The restaurant was packed for dinner on Christmas night. We forgot to make a booking (most people did this on the first day of the cruise!) and by the time we remembered they had booked out. Having said that, we simply arrived at the restaurant at 5:30pm, was told to come back at 6pm and was seated by 6:15pm. The restaurant did two seatings that evening and did the best they could to accommodate as many passengers as physically possible. The service was a little slow but that was to be expected with a full house and it gave us as a family plenty of time to catch up and enjoy the bad jokes in the bon bons!
Visit from Santa
On Christmas Day Santa visited the ship! All the children gathered at the marquee which was decorated with hundreds of red and green balloons and a big red chair for the special visitor. The entertainment team had packaged a video together of Santa and an elf around the ship which was shown not he big screen before Santa entered the theatre and took place on the stage.
Every child onboard was then invited to the stage to receive a gift and the ship photographer was unhand to capture Santa photos for all.
Our children received a P&O Selfie Stick (11yo) and a P&O frisbee, ball and drink bottle (8yo).
Late Night Babysitting
After a long day, our kids were of course up at 6am!, the kids club offered complimentary late night babysitting. Normally charged at $5 per hour after 10:30pm until close at 1pm - on Christmas night the late-night service was offered complimentary.
The kids were given blankets and a Christmas movie allowing the adults some time for a late night drink or visit to the night club to celebrate Christmas.
Overall the crew did a great job to get us into the spirit of Christmas. We noticed many large groups travelling together and multi-generational families enjoying a stress free Christmas where no-one had to cook, clean or drive!
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
Norway is simply stunning. No pictures can capture the beauty that is the majestic snow capped glacial mountains, the crystal clear waters of the Fjords and the picturesque colourful wooden villages that scatter amongst the journey.
A great way to experience Norway is from a cruise ship and here are a few reasons why.
There is a lot to see in Norway, you want to take in as many of the towns/villages as you can.
However packing and unpacking, moving from one lodging to the next, can be tiresome. Once on a cruise ship, unpack once and your accommodation moves with you.
2. Visit More Than One City
On the P&O Britannia 7 night itinerary, we visited four cities in Norway. Stavanger, Olden, Flam and Bergen. Although only for one day each, the cruise gives a nice sampler of what Norway has to offer.
3. Enjoy the Scenery At Night
Norway enjoys long days with very little darkness in July. During the day you can explore the cities, at night watch the scenery pass you by. Pre-dinner drinks at the front of the ship in the comfortable bar with 180 degree views of where you are heading, dinner by the restaurant window as you watch Norway pass you by, post-dinner walk on the outside deck, there is an endless supply of beautiful scenery as you cruise through the inlets of the Norwegian Fjords.
4. Great for Families
Cruising Norway is a great option for families as it provides a balanced holiday for all. On the P&O Britannia kids are well looked after with an awesome kids club and amazing staff.
The kids can make friends and play whilst the adults enjoy on-board activities and the scenery. Lets be honest, a seven and 10 year old are going to be more interested in learning how to spin DJ decks than marvel at snow capped mountains!
5. Shore Activities
We picked some great shore activities for our day stops in Norway.
Kayaking the Fjords in Olden, taking a cable car up 2000ft in Bergen, visiting the street of colours in Stavanger and experiencing the world famous Flam Railway.
There is a lot you can cram into your 7-8 hour port stop and we made sure we certainly did!
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
Travelling through the Norweigian Fjords is an amazing experience. On a seven night P&O UK Cruise out of Southampton our passage took us through scenery like no other I have ever seen.
On port stops we were able to get up close and personal to the waterways, in the city of Olden Itchy Feet Family took to kayaks to explore the Nord Fjord.
When looking at shore tours offered on the cruise, this was the only one that resembled any level of physical activity. The cruise line clearly catering for the more senior cruiser who enjoys a bus journey or walking tour. We jumped at the opportunity to do something active for the day.
Olden, with a population of just 2,500, more than doubles in size when a large passenger ship such as the 3,500 passenger Britannia comes in for the day. Our guide, Richard, loved the opportunity to meet new people and showcase his beautiful part of the world.
Although we were travelling in summer (July), the weather was still very cold. At a cool 13 degrees, we were just thankful it was not raining.
The boat house was located a short walk from where the ship docked so there was no need for a bus journey to our tour, we were off the ship and in kayaks within an hour.
After boarding the kayaks in a small inlet, we travelled under a bridge before heading out into the large open Fjord. The water was calm for the most part, however the wind did pick up whilst we were out which restricted how far out the Fjord we travelled.
The operator provided lifejackets and waterproof skirts and with the ice cold glacial waters we were encouraged to try stay dry in the boats! For the most part we did, except when the kids decided to test how cold the water was by putting their arms in the Fjord - without rolling up their sleeves!
The water was fresh on top - although the Fjord ran into the ocean, the salt water sits at the bottom of the Fjord whilst the top is crystal clear drinkable water from the mountains.
The tandem kayaks allowed us to pair up one adult with one child and although the kids were also given paddles, it was really the work of the adults that got us through the journey. With the kids at the front, their paddles mostly served as large splashing devices with the aim of seeing who could get which parent wetter!
It was quite an impressive view in the middle of the fjord with the majestic Britannia one side of us and waterfalls and snow capped mountains the other.
We kayaked for two hours on the Fjord, stopping every 15-20 minutes or so for narration from our guides. We learnt the main industries in the area were tourism, farming and petroleum and were encouraged to try the Norweigian strawberries, they came highly recommended.
Although the tour did not travel too far from where we started, we could always see the ship from any point of the tour, it was a fun couple of hours and provided some activity in between narration. Much more fun than sitting on a bus.
By the end of the two hours we were quite cold, especially given the children were wet up to their shoulders! If I was to do it again I would make sure we wore wet weather jackets and that the kids rolled their sleeves up before testing the water!
The short tour also gave us time to head back to the ship to refresh and refuel before taking a stroll around the picturesque town.
Have you taken your kids kayaking on holiday? Where have been some of the memorable locations?
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
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In July the Itchy Feet Family took a seven night cruise departing Southampton, UK, through the Fjords of Norway. As an Australian family - there were a few noticeable differences to travelling on a British based ship as opposed to an Australian.
Here were our top eight stand out observations: - good, bad and indifferent.
1. No Lanyards
On Australian ships we love wearing our room keys on lanyards in a kaleidoscope of colours proudly around our neck. On the Britannia there was barely a lanyard to be seen. No fire sale on day 1 to get your blinged out lanyard - the Brits just put them in their pocket!
2. Women Love a Lager
I have never in my life seen so many women drinking pints. It is the beverage of choice for men and women alike. I will never lose the picture of a 70 year old lady necking a lager like I drink a bottle of water after a work out! And with so many options of craft beers and beers on tap - why not enjoy a lager! The bars offer sampler paddles of beer so you can try a range of craft brews from varying regions across the UK. And if you simply can’t find a waiter - there is a self-serve beer tap in the buffet just swipe and pour!
3. Long Life Milk
Brits don’t mind a bit of long life milk - Aussies prefer it fresh. The advantage is that there was a kettle in the room with mountainous supplies of tea/coffee and long life milk. At any time - day or night - a cup of tea was available in your cabin. In the buffet restaurant long life milk in sachets is kept on the tables so tea could be poured at the table and you did not have to get up for milk. For me, I prefer milk from a jug rather than a sachet.
4. No Baristas
Australians are coffee snobs and we love a good coffee made by a Barista. Although there was Costa coffee on board - the machines were automated. The coffee waiter simply pressed a button and the machine did the work.
5. Kids Can Not Roam
When the kids are put into kids club, they are secured. In Australia generally children can sign themselves in and out of kids club from age 10. On the Britannia, kids have to be 13 years old to gain that privilege.
The kids club was also open quite late - until 11pm at night. The Brits like to party so the kids are well looked after so the parents can enjoy the onboard evening activities.
6. No Leaving Kids On The Ship
If parents go ashore - the kids go with them. In Australia and the US kids clubs operate on port days and parents are able to leave the ship without the kids. This is not allowed on the Britannia.
Not that we have regularly done this - however there have been a few occasions when we have taken the kids off the ship in the morning and then enjoyed an afternoon exploring further without them when they were too tired to continue.
On this particular cruise our first port day was met with cold, wind and rain. Whilst we put ponchos on the kids and headed out into the awful weather, they were not impressed. We did not get to explore much - there was only so far we could force them to walk in the rain. The adults however would have soldiered through - but back to the ship it was. The kids enjoyed their afternoon in kids club whilst the adults had to sit on deck and wonder what could have been explored at a port stop they would probably never return to.
7. Best of British
Best of British sail away party, Best of British quiz, Best of British party night, Best of British stage show - I did not realise the British were so patriotic. It was actually great to see - even if it meant at Trivia time we got the so called “easy questions” wrong. We simply had no chance when the theme of the quiz was British TV show songs.
8. Formal is Formal
Wow can the British bring out a frock! Where did all these women get such formal gowns from. I have never seen so many long flowing ball gowns and men in tuxedos. Even on smart casual evenings the British glam it up! Maybe they don’t get out much - maybe they are just more proper than us Aussies. Even on the last night of the cruise passengers were suited and booted with high heels, frocks and ties on display.
Cruising is a great family travel option, if you are considering a cruise outside of Australian waters you may want to consider a few of the cultural differences you will encounter. Have you cruised abroad? What differences did you notice?
Itchy Feet Family
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Planning on a cruise holiday? Beware of the cruiselings. These are the seasoned cruisers that tend to have developed a language of their own that can be confusing for a first-time cruiser.
As self-confessed cruiselings, Itchy Feet Family have compiled a list of lingo that to a novice may not quite make as much sense - so we have broken it down for you.
Here are our top 15 Cruise Ship Lingo explained.
When you make your booking you will have an option of either booking a specific cabin on the ship that you select from the deck plans or to book a “Guaranteed Cabin”. A Guaranteed Cabin means that you are guaranteed that class of cabin or above. You will not be notified of your cabin number until close to your cruise departure. If you are booking multiple cabins and want to make sure you are positioned together, it is not a good idea to book a guaranteed cabin. People sometimes think if they book an interior cabin on guaranteed they will be upgraded to a balcony - this is not likely……
An interconnecting cabin is like interconnecting hotel rooms - it means there is a door between two cabins that can be opened to connect the two. However unless you are actually booking two cabins, being allocated an Interconnecting cabin does not mean you have been given two rooms. It is just a courtesy to let you know that there is a door between your cabin and the next - and essentially that the noise restriction between the two rooms may be affected.
A tender is not a document produced and written to the government asking for a contract or grant funding, on a cruise ship the Tender is the small boat used to ferry passengers between the ship and the port of call.
When you board the ship you will notice the Tender ships hoisted up on the side. They are also what the ships use in an emergency - lets hope you never have to use them for that - only to explore a port.
If you are taking a cruise on a small expedition ship, a Zodiac is used instead of a tender boat. A zodiac is a robust motorised small rubber boat used to ferry passengers from ship to shore or to simply explore waterways at a more intimate level.
A tender port is a location that does not have the infrastructure for the cruise ship to pull directly in to disembark passengers. It is a tender port that will require the use of the Tender boats to get passengers ashore.
When visiting a tender port your ship will instruct you the process of getting onto a tender, generally you are required to gather in the ship’s theatre to collect a numbered ticket. When your ticket number is called you head to the bottom deck where there will be a pontoon set up for embarking/disembarking onto the Tender.
Before your ship leaves it’s embarkation port it is international law that a safety drill is performed with all passengers onboard. Passengers will be directed to collect their life jacket from their cabin and assemble at their allocated Muster Station. This does not refer to an outback sheep station in central Australia, but rather your meeting/assembly point for the safety drill and subsequent emergencies should it be required.
This is a tour arranged by the cruise line at your port locations. The advantage of booking a shore tour is that you are guaranteed the ship will not leave without you. If your tour bus gets caught in traffic or breaks down in the middle of nowhere, the ship will not leave without you. The risk of booking independent shore tours is that if you do not make it back to the ship by boarding time, the ship will happily sail into the sunset without you!
It seems crazy that I would explain this, however I recently completed a weekend Sea Break where I heard a passenger complaining that they were astounded that the ship had not stopped anywhere all weekend! A Sea Break - or Sea Days - literally means your cruise ship will be out at sea and not docking anywhere. Sit back and enjoy the Sea!
Sail Away Party
One of the best parties to get involved with on the ship - the Sail Away! Say farewell to land and hello cruise holiday. Most ships will have music playing, bars fully stocked and all the entertainment staff on the deck getting you in the right spirit for your relaxing getaway.
The Entertainment Director on a cruise ship is the fun police. It is their job to schedule all the passenger activities and ensure passengers are having fun. Often you will see them running a Trivia or a Bingo and they will appear on the theatre stage at the end of the night letting you know what entertainment is planned for the rest of the night and the next day. You may hear them over the loud speaker with announcements of activities you can get involved with and you will also see them at all the parties around the ship getting people involved in whatever is going on. A good Entertainment Director can really set the tone of your cruise and make sure everyone is having a good time.
A lot of ships have a common deck named the Lido deck. This is a common term for the deck that has the open air pool and activities.
The wake of the ship is the powerful wash of water viewed from the back of the ship as it sails through the ocean. Quite often you will see people at the back of the ship watching the wake at sunset or sunrise.
This is your most important item on your cruise. Before you board the ship, at check in, you will have your photograph taken and issued a cruise card. Your cruise card is you key access to your cabin, your payment method for all things on the ship and your identification as you board and disembark the ship.
On-board Credit/ On-board Spend
Many cruise lines offer incentives for booking that includes OBC - on board credit. This is a nominated amount that is added to your cruise card available for you to spend wherever you wish on the ship. Spend it at the bar, on shore tours, at the duty free shop or spa - the choice is yours.
Anytime dining is a dining room that allows you to simply walk up and ask for a table at whatever time you feel like dining. If a table is available you will be seated immediately, if there is a queue you will need to wait your turn. Alternatively you will have allocated dining which is a set time for your dining. Many ships will have allocated dining times for evening meals. An early dining time - around 5:30 and a late seating time of 8pm. If your ship has allocated dining you choose one of the times and that is your dining time for the duration of the cruise. Generally you will sit at the same table each night. A great option for solo travellers wanting some company for dinner.
I am sure there are many more that would be of interest to first time cruisers. If you have a word to add to our list, share it with us in the comments below, we would love to hear them.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
Other blogs you may be interested in:
- Christmas Cruising: Pros and Cons
- Family Cruising - Five Top Tips
- Dixie Dude Ranch - Visit to a Real Texas Cowboy Ranch
Recently we took a weekend Sea Break P&O Cruise out of Adelaide departing Outer Harbour on the Friday, sailing around the coastline to nowhere in particular, before coming back to land on the Monday morning and heading off to work for the week.
It was a fantastic weekend away on a cruise to nowhere! And the added benefit of the departure in and out of Adelaide meant there were no airport connections or long drives required for our quick break.
The cruise we sailed on was billed as a “Comedy Cruise” which to be honest I really had no idea, nor cared, what that meant as I was just happy to get away. However it become apparent that there were cruisers on this particular journey for whom the Comedy element was the main drawcard.
So what can you expect and take away from a comedy cruise?
If you are a budding comedian, or have any desire to tick off your bucket list standing in front of a large crowd and giving it your best to make them laugh - this is a perfect opportunity to do just that. Not only did this cruise come complete with nightly comedy shows, it also offered passengers the opportunity to learn from the masters before giving it a try.
Our first night at sea we were warmed up at the Sit Down Comedy Club. An adults only show performed at 9pm in the ships main theatre featuring our MC/Host for the cruise and a stand up comedian. For our weekend we were entertained by Kehau Jackson and recent Adelaide Fringe award winning performer Luke Heggie.
On our first full day at sea passengers were given an opportunity to join a Comedy Workshop with Kehau Jackson. Tips on joke writing, delivery, knowing your audience, stage presence and more were handed out to budding comedians posing as passengers on the cruise.
On Saturday night the 400+ seat Marquee theatre filled again at 8:30pm for an all ages performance and then at 11pm for an Adults only Comedy Gala. This evening we were entertained by Pete Rowsthorn of Kath & Kim fame, Bev Killick, Elbow Skin and an encore from Luke Heggie.
For cruisers with little ones wanting to see the late show the kids club is open until 10:30pm at no extra charge, for a minimal charge of just $5 per hour you can leave the little ones in until 1pm so you can make the most of the comedy on offer.
For our last sea day the comedy continued and was packed into the day and night. Starting with an up close and funny session with the comedians at 2pm, this lead into the Comedy Gong Show where passengers hit the stage. The twin deck theatre was packed as budding comedians took the microphone and did their best to make us laugh, impress the judging panel and avoid the sound of the gong ready to be hit at any time by the entertainment director.
I must say I was surprised at how many passengers hit the stage. There were eight contestants brave enough to get up and give it a go. Granted, some of them probably shouldn’t have! but credit to them for giving it a go - it was more than I could do!
For our last night at sea a new act performed, Moments of Magic and Humour with Jonas Jost followed later in the night with one final Sitdown Comedy Club performance that featured Kehau Jackson and Bev Killick.
With all this entertainment included in your cruise fare, along with your accommodation, meals and child care - what a great value weekend. A night out to a fancy restaurant, a show at the Adelaide Fringe, a hotel in town and a babysitter for the night would almost cost you the same!
Whilst I loved the weekend, my only negative was that we sailed in 2016 on the Adelaide Comedy Cruise and we saw some of the same comedians - who disappointingly used much of the same material again in 2017. I would love to do the weekend again in 2018 and really hope that P&O can find some new fresh talent before then as a joke is only really funny once…….
Have you done a comedy cruise before - let us know what you thought?
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
Other blogs you may be interested in
- Cruise to nowhere - weekend at sea
- Christmas Cruising - the pros and cons
- Dixie Dude Ranch - our stay at a real cowboy ranch in Texas
- Lest we forget - visiting battlefields of Long Tan
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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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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In 2016 we ended the year and started the New Year doing what we absolutely love - travelling! For the midnight countdown to welcome in the 2017 New Year we were sailing in the middle of the Pacific Ocean aboard the P&O Eden.
If you have ever considered taking a cruise that includes New Years Eve, here are a list of Pros and Cons to consider.
To prepare for the evening we had the option of three restaurants for dinner. There was a special festive menu served in all restaurants and no surcharge for it being NYE.
Lots of Options
All the bars were in full swing on NYE so there was plenty to choose from. Jazz in the blue room, piano tunes in the Mix Bar, DJ on the pool deck, acoustics in Oceans Bar, band in the Dome - there was so much to choose from. If the crowd or the tunes were not taking your fancy at one venue you could simply walk to another! And best of all - no cover charge!
As many locations now do - the cruise offered an option for families to celebrate NYE without having to wait for the official midnight countdown. The entertainment staff put on a great party from 7:30-9pm for all the junior cruisers (and their parents) to feel a part of the atmosphere with a rocking white-party on the pool deck. The kids got glow sticks, the parents joined in for the YMCA and a great time had by all.
No Taxi Needed
Wherever we needed to be on the night, whichever party we decided to attend - we were able to walk there! No-one had to be the designated driver. And at the end of the night we didn’t have to line up for hours to get a ride home, or pay a 10 x surcharge on Uber - we just walked back to the cabin!
Fireworks and NYE go hand in hand - however in the middle of the ocean there was no such thing. If fireworks are a requirement for your celebration - a cruise may not be your thing. We did however get an awesome 2017 ice carving!
No Live Television Coverage
If you have ever celebrated NYE at home - or at a home party - live coverage of how people are celebrating around the world normally forms part of the occasion. When you are in the middle of the ocean you are in a bit of a bubble from what is going on in the world - that includes the coverage of the fireworks at iconic locations around the world. I have no idea who pressed the button to release the ball in New York this year!
Celebrating with Strangers
Unless you manage to convince your friends and family to join you on your NYE cruise, chances are you will be doing the countdown amongst mostly strangers. If you prefer to be surrounded by people you know, this is not the celebration for you.
Limited Phone Coverage
Unless you have your phone on International roaming, you will not be able to call/text your friends and family at NYE and clog up their inbox with obligatory Happy New Year texts!
If you have ever cruise over New Year's Eve - how did you enjoy it? Leave us a comment.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
Other blogs you may be interested in:
- Christmas Cruising: Pros and Cons
- Family Cruising: Five Helpful Tips
- Y'All Come Back Soon - Trip to a Texas Ranch
Penny, an avid Trip Advisor Reviewer, is the author of ITCHY FEET FAMILY. A family of 4 living in Adelaide, Australia, and taking every opportunity to travel and explore the world.