Cruise News

Is it normal to come back from a cruise and spend the next couple of days looking for another one to go on? I suspect it is.

A year ago if someone doing a big lap told me, even someone doing it with five kids, they needed a holiday I’d have scoffed mightily in their direction.

And yet, there we were: exhausted and the kids niggling at each other and wanting a change of backdrop.

Which was when Tracey found us a solution online. A sale for a five day cruise from Melbourne – Hobart – Port Arthur – Sydney.  And it would work out at a mere $300 each. Sold!

Best decision we’ve made in recent memory. And I’m including the purchase of our tent.

You’ve probably heard people say it’s the best proper family holiday because no one has to do any household chores. There are enough staff and crew onboard to take care of all everything you normally have to argue about getting done. Beds will be made. Dishes will be done. Skid marks in the loo magically disappear.

Which was sort of an epiphany for me. It turns out having 900 staff to cook, clean and pour me drinks is totally my happy place. Good to know going forward in life.

One thing I will say to anyone looking at booking with Carnival for a cruise – do the Behind The Fun tour. It costs $95pp but it was the highlight of the cruise for me and Miss10. It’s a 3-4 hour tour limited to 16 people where you go below decks to see how the ship runs. Everything from the engineering to the storerooms to laundry to the Bridge. Staff in every area tell you about their job and you can ask whatever questions you like. It was fascinating and I learned more about cruising in those 4 hours than the other five days. BUT book the moment your feet hit the foyer or you’ll miss out. It’s extremely popular. For good reason.

Photo of a photo (no phones or cameras on the Behind The Fun tour – and you get your own security officer too). The Captain was looking at the camera so I thought I better keep an eye on where we were going)

The cruise was just what we needed. Good memories have been banked.

In fact, the kids were having so much fun several of them cried the night before we had to leave.

In the end we come up with what I think is a fantastic idea: we’ll do more cruises.

Our kids earn themselves $10 a week by completing their tasks in the program Mathspace. It’s how they get pocket money to bank away. What we’ve suggested is they can put money towards a cruise every year if they like, meaning they pay for their own tickets, meaning we can go more often.

They’re in.

With them effectively paying for their own tickets our next cruise won’t be far away.

Hopefully we can all be enjoying the high seas again later this year or early next year.  We’ve already been checking out cruises which include Noumea, so we can visit some friends there. Actually we started looking at what deals were out there while we were still on the boat.

As I said, this cruise was a holiday. A proper holiday. The deal was the kids got our full attention without Tracey and I hammering out things on our computers (I tried). What I don’t think they expected was how much fun they were going to have even when we weren’t with them.

So here’s our cruise in photos with a little blurb to explain what was happening.

I’ve included a couple of links at the bottom: one for the Carnival line we went on (totally unsponsored, so you know, although we received a surprisedly fabulous upgrade to VIP status before we sailed), and the other for the OzCruising website we used to find a fabulous deal.

We LOVED our cruise. The kids LOVED our cruise. The cruise LOVED us back.

We need to do this again.

And sooner rather than later.

Before the kids start niggling at each other too much again.

Behind The Fun – up on the Bridge. Only way to get here is this tour or five years of study and low wages.
Behind The Fun – down in the galley being shown how to play with your food.

Arrival 

Walking onto the ship I took a wide eyed look around the foyer before wondering out loud if Trump had a say in the decor. There’s a lot of gold trim and gaudiness and urns.

LOTS of urns.

Two hours later I’d fallen in love with the playfulness of it all and started to have fun working out which mythological legendary figure was being represented in the different artwork. Even spotted Romulus and Remus suckling on their she-wolf adoptive mother on a stairwell.

By this point we’d driven an hour to drop our bus off for a service with our mate Donny at Devon Meadows (D&A Papas Automotive Repairs). Our car we left only two kilometres from Station Pier, so we decided to walk. With luggage. Bad decision. I just kept telling myself, “Not long now. We’re nearly beer. Nearly beer.” So much excitement when we closed in on our destination. 
Glass lifts – because why shouldn’t changing floors be fun too?!
“Ewww,” moaned Miss8. “He’s naked.” I shot around thinking there was a streaker on board, but it turned out it was just a mural. Clue to the theme of the ship is in the name – Legend. Lots of references to Greek mythology and the like all over the boat, including in the hallways of the cabins. Lots of naked chests but no nipples. I really looked. Amongst giggles from other people sharing the lift I pointed out the guy had a towel wrapped around his nethers. Miss8 still thought there was too much flesh showing.
Part of the restaurant area on the Lido deck between mouthfuls. I mean, meals.
There were lots of comfortable seats with gorgeous ocean views all over the common decks to sit and chat and enjoy a drink or entertainment. Musicians were scattered about playing great tunes and best of all you even got to join in if you wanted – more on that later.

 Our Rooms

We booked internal rooms.

On purpose.

We could have had a balcony or window for a little more. BUT, when a big part of your holiday plans are afternoon naps you want the room to be dark.

And by naps I of course mean actual naps, not ‘naps’.

We can have ‘naps’ if I pitch our tent (that’s an actual tent for any newbies to this page), but naps are harder to sneak in when you live in a bus with your five kids.

The room itself was great. The mattress I had was freaking fantastic. So were my two pillows, giving me a choice of soft cloud and firmer cloud on which to lay my weary, beer-buzzed head. I mention this because I read reviews of the Carnival Legend before we left and someone said the beds were horrible, so I went in expecting the worst. On the bright side, because of that I had a nice surprise.

Only negative I have about the room was the lack of power points. Only the one. The kids and I ended up charging our phones from the laptop because that way we could do two at the same time. 

Room 6121 – I showed a photo of the room I shared with Miss14, Miss10 and Master12 to a couple on the boat and they frowned at how small it looked compared to theirs. Meanwhile, my kids and I were looking for cats to swing. 
Living in a bus with slender mattresses and a thin hall makes you appreciate every additional cm.
Room 6118 – Tracey shared with Miss6 & Miss8. “Is all the room above your head freaking you out?” I asked my wife, because on the bus our bed is only 60cm from the ceiling. I love it. It’s cosy. “You having trouble sleeping?” When her eyes roll back out of her skull to glare at me I’ll let you know her answer.
No need to do the splits on the bus to touch beds across the aisle.
See!
Can’t fit this many of us together in the aisle of our bus. Just sayin’
Towel art is a cruise staple and the excitement they squeezed from my girls shows why.

Interestingly, on a journey into the crew only areas we discovered a couple of guys making these up. And I mean hundreds of them. Until that moment I’d always assumed the room stewards made them up individually as they cleaned the rooms. Doesn’t change the fact they’re a bit of great holiday fun.
Lots of storage in the room, and an ensuite to boot with a toilet with enough suction to gut a fish through its nose. Oh, and an old fashioned wired to the wall phone.

The Phones In The Rooms

I mention the phones because they were a highlight for the kids. Easily as popular as the slides. The phone in our room must have rung six or twenty times a night. I probably should have answered it.

Over in my room, Miss10 was happily taking all the calls and occasionally passing along cute messages from the little girls: “Sophie says it’s nice to not hear you fart in the morning, Dad.” Sweet things like that.
Reminds me of when I was a kid and hogged the line for an hour every night to chat with my friends. I used to bring snacks with me too.

All You Can Eat Ice-cream

Let’s quickly move on to the most important items about cruise life.

Until this cruise my kids were blissfully unaware of the phrase ‘breakfast ice-cream’. When we explained the concept of all-you-can-eat with emphasis on how that manifests regarding the Mr Whippy-like ice-cream machine on the Lido deck there was much excitement.

From us too – all inclusive in the ticket price. Knock yourselves out, kids.

Rarely saw this girl without a cone in her hand. I really hope I don’t have cause to say something similar when she’s 17.
Cones or cups. Tough choice. Great for people with gluten issues though.
Not even brain freeze could stop Miss6 from her mission to eat all of the ice-cream.

Fancy Chairs

While quickly working out how phones connected to the wall and ice-cream machines work, Miss10 was stumped by a couple of chairs she found up on the deck with the slides.

Initially she thought maybe they were a lounge, presumably for someone who likes to have an arm and leg dangling down to the ground, but fears floors. 
Next she thought maybe you put both legs in so it acts as a windbreak. This, of course, meant it had no back which she saw as a problem until…
…she realised you obviously leaned forward and slept.
Eventually she gave up.

Champions of Champions

As I’m sure everyone would agree, the highlight of any cruise is the inaugural Connect4 Championship. Teams of two were pitted against each other in an all out death match. The bloodlust was palpable.

Caught on film using performance enhancing drugs. Plus you can see my secret weapon – those distractingly white legs. They didn’t stand a chance.
Much concentration.
Second last round is Miss8 & myself vs Miss14 & Miss6. Not sure how much help Miss6 was being here.
Poker faced Miss8 and I laying our trap.
Waiting between rounds, Miss8 remembered to keep her fluids up.
Winners! Miss8 and I pause our gloating for a triumphant photo waving our ‘ship on a stick’ atop the carcasses of the vanquished
Celebratory drinks were, like for the rest of the cruise, on the house.

Kids Clubs

We don’t have many photos of the kids groups which our guys were a part of because our kids shoo’ed us out the moment they arrived at one – and whinged when we came to pick them up.

Spoke to another parent recently who was actually upset their kid didn’t want to spend time with them on their cruise because of this ‘problem’. We even let the kids stay for the Night Owls on the second last night (10pm to midnight) and they still weren’t satisfied. The staff in charge of the kids activities were brilliant. 100%. Our guys loved them.

Of course, this meant Tracey and I could duck back to our room for ‘naps’ occasionally, which I was very happy about.

There were three groups our kids were involved with. Stingrays 6-8years old. Sharks 9-11years old. Circle C 12-14year olds. To keep it fresh the groups would hang in different parts of the ship and the older groups took part in scavenger hunts, which were extremely popular.
This is the entrance to the kids clubs – how fun is this!?

Becoming Part of the Entertainment

Tracey was asked to join the dance troop for their Motown show. Like they could keep her out of it!

It started with an interview screened to the whole theatre, where Tracey got to give our blog a plug (good work, Darls) and then she was slipped into a song and danced her way up and onto stage with a couple of shirtless six-packs – I think at this point many of the women who said no as they walked into the theatre were kicking themselves.

Some of the photos below make this room out to be low ceiled. It’s not. It’s huge and climbs up two decks of the ship.

Don’t miss the shows. Even if you aren’t interested in getting close enough to lick the sweat off a hairless America. They really are both professional and enormous fun.

Blurry photo of us with four of the eight performers who do the nightly shows. These people are super talenting. When Tracey was on stage she confirmed they were singing all the backing and everything. On the Behind The Fun tour I learned they’re all hired individually and brought together in the US for six weeks of learning the routines on stages set up like each class of ship. Then they arrive onboard with a seamstress to adjust the costumes and spend two weeks taking over each of the sets one at a time from the previous dance troop. There really is a lot more going on behind the scenes on these cruise ships than you realise.
Tracey wasn’t the only Devereaux to get in on the cruise entertainment. We both took to the stage a few times for karaoke. I managed to push out a reasonable rendition of Walking in Memphis, Baby Grand, Krytonite and Lightning Crashes. 
Tracey whipped out Joy To The World and Dreams. I expect they’re doing up contracts for us right this minute. There was much applause.

Stopovers

For some people the stopovers are a major draw card for a cruise, but for us it just meant a chance to have all the bars and activities on the bus to ourselves.

We ducked off for an hour or so in Hobart to see some friends once their kids were out of school but that was it. Of course, the fact we’d just come back from a couple of months touring Tasmania probably affected our decision.

Had a lovely lunch looking out over Hobart and Googling to find out about the ship parked across from us – the Investigator. It’s part of CSIRO and kept me and the kids amused for a bit. Plus, I could now claim we did some homeschooling on the cruise.
Disembarking in Hobart. The pier and surrounds here are rather beautiful. 

Meeting up with the Whittaker’s for an ice-cream. It’s only been about two weeks since we’ve seen these guys. You’d think it was years the way our kids carried on. In other news, we now suspect we have a family connection several generations back. What are the odds of that? Well, it is Tasmania, so probably pretty good.

The Carnival Legend starts to back away from the wharf and out into the channel. On our Behind The Fun tour we learned the props of the ship can rotate which allows for greater manoeuvrability – the ship can stop in about a minute.
Someone was a little shagged from late nights, a trip to town and coming down off sugar highs.

Watching the Captain work his magic from the viewing deck above the Bridge. I struggle backing out of some parks in supermarkets.
The Pilot Boat slipping away from us.
And we’re off again.
Woke up to this view. Port Arthur looks impressive even from this distance. We were going to get off and meet some friends but they couldn’t make it so we stayed with the food while the rest of the ship went exploring.

Slides

One of the things the kids were most excited about on this ship before we left were the slides. This is what they wanted most of all. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t conducive to not shivering in swimmers so they didn’t get to do much. But they got to do some.

Miss10 explaining she’s tall enough to do the big green slide, although straight after this she discovered her bravery was coming up a little bit short.
“Fine. I’ll do it with you,” I sighed eventually. I figured otherwise we risked being here all afternoon and there wasn’t a beer in sight on this deck.
Scared-e-cat Dad doing anything where he has to take his shirt off in public, climb to great heights, get wet and basically shit himself is considered the ultimate fun for my kids.
What I didn’t know before I got to the platform in the clouds was they shoved you into a little box, shut the door and then the floor disappeared from under you. I think I left a skid mark the whole way down.
The face of a man whose life just flashed before his eyes and he liked the final edit.
The yellow slide was a bit tamer. No trapdoor for starters.

You can see the Serenity bar & pool from up here. It’s billed as the adults only section but I didn’t see anything R rated when Tracey & I went there.

Unlike me, Miss6 nailed the landing.

 Top Deck

After self-filling buffets, endless pizzas and bottomless glasses of soft drink you need to work some of it off. Front and top of the ship there’s a section with mini golf, basketball, mini soccer and a jogging track.

It won’t surprise anyone to know we didn’t try the jogging track but then I did a lot of running after gold balls.

I’m not sure how many balls you have left at the Putt Putt course, Carnival. Sorry about that.
As any pro golfer will tell you, the main difficulty with putting is looking cute while you do it. Miss6 has it down pat.
Kids went up to play hoopies every day.

Looks like I’m scoring a basket, but knowing my skill set I’m pretty sure that’s my ball about to hit Miss8’s knees.
Touchdown! When you can’t throw a ball high enough to touch the hoop you change the rules.

Unicorn Restaurant

You’d have to be trying really hard to go hungry on a cruise.

We tried most of the options they had available throughout the ship. Everything except the Sushi cafe, which is odd because we all LOVE that stuff. There was the buffet up on the Lido deck, the restaurant on the lower Promenade deck, and the fancy swancy steakhouse on the Sun deck. We generally managed to finish breakfast before lunch, but usually not by much.

Dinner we had early too, because that meant more pizza later on in the evening.

All this and not a single dirty dish to wash.

Generally the Unicorn restaurant had three identical buffet offerings, so you avoided looooong slow moving lines. You got short slow moving lines instead 🙂 The food was great here. Very much felt like shopping centre food court fair, but I like that stuff. Usually a curry of some sort, a soup, fish dish, rice dish, asian dish, a big ol’ roast, vegetables. There’s something for everyone and it changes every meal, so you don’t get sick of it. There’s also a pies and snags buffet, a salad & cheese area and, at lunch, a sandwich/wrap area. Interestingly, I learned on our Behind The Fun tour the staff’s restaurants (they have four) work on a 28 day cycle for the same reason and also have food options to cater for the 60+ different cultures and culinary preferences onboard.

Got some numbers on the amount of food the ship has onboard – the cost is about $45,000 a day. Which sounds like a lot until you divide it by the number of people onboard (2124 guests + 930 staff) and it ends up about $15/day/pp. Suddenly I didn’t feel so bad about 1) my gluttony, or 2) our leftovers. I’m dieting like a boss now though.
Did I mention the sweet counter? I didn’t actually try any of this because there were usually pastries right at the beginning of the counter and only so much room on my plate.
There were different nom noms every day.

Truffles Restaurant

For a lovely sit down meal there’s this place down on deck 2. Table service and a choice of entrees and mains and desserts.

Every night there’s a little something different on the menu, so I got to try deer for the first time. My kids were, to a man, horrified with me.

This was a nice option to sit everyone down and chat and be waited on, as opposed to lining up at a buffet.

There was also a magician who came around to each table. Which reminds me, he knows my iPhone’s pin number now. I really must remember to change it.

A fun element to this restaurant is the staff doing a dance for dinners each night. But the best bit of dinning here is you can still go upstairs to the Unicorn restaurant and eat more!
They happily provided Miss8 with gluten free options.

Nouveau Restaurant

So this is the high end of dinning on the ship. The steakhouse.

It costs extra ($45 adults and $15 kids) but it’s worth it. Sensationally tender aged steak, perfectly cooked and presented. Couldn’t afford to do this every night, but once was a treat I won’t forget.

Entrees and sides are included in the price. For once in our life we could just let everyone choose what you liked and not have to run a finger down the number column on the right.

The atmosphere is different again here. On the night we went we chose the earliest sitting so the kids could make their Kids Clubs events, and there were only a few other dinners.

Lucky for them really. Our kids don’t do fancy real well.

Chef’s Table

For $90pp you can experience the Chef’s Table.

Sounds like a lot, but you realise by the second glass of complimentary champagne and the fourth entree it isn’t. We were invited to experience this and I’m so glad we took the opportunity.

I mean it’s not like we didn’t have options. There was karaoke in the Red Frog I had to skip to get dressed in time for this. The sacrifices I make.

Every plate is explained by the Executive Chef or Sous Chef. The techniques used and so forth. Plus they were funny buggers as well. All made for a lovely change to normal dinner conversation.
Looks like a raw egg yolk. Don’t be fooled. It’s a bubble of mango pulp. Refreshingly wonderful. They did this sort of thing all night.
On our way out of the galley…
…we got to see a little…
…of how things work behind the scenes. I gotta say, it was clean AF and running smooth. 
While we started out in the ship’s galley with a hundred chefs doing their thing around us, dinner was on a disco floor. Because of course it was. I instantly felt right at home, although historically I only eat foot in these sorts of places.
Yes, I ate all this. Tracey made it as far as the Wagyu beef.
You know you’re in for a treat when this is the bread roll.
The resident magician showed up and managed to get someone else’s pin number. Can’t remember his name but he was Russian and fun.
Plating up. I watch MKR.
Pretty sure this is the duck. 
Tomato soup. Both sides. Fancy AF eh?
The beef dish. Loved the bone marrow souffle, but the meat was the star. So tender you could cut it with an appreciative sigh.

Pizza Pirate Cafe

Such a simple thing but THIS is the main reason I’ll happily go back on this Carnival ship: free pizza available 24 hours a day.

And not frozen pizza, or pre-made base pizza or nasty pizza.

This is delicious pizza. Proper pizza. Freshly made pizza.

Better still, they also had gluten free pizza. Hallelujah!

The guys in pizzaria were the hardest working people on the ship. Thanks, primarily, to the Devereauxs.

Tried every pizza on their list – only five or six. From memory, ham & pineapple, fungi, four cheese, Margherita.  Best was pepperoni. As usual.
This is the secret sauce. I took notes, photos and asked questions. In the end I think it’ll just be easier to book another cruise. Oh, well. 

Other Moments

Oops. Kids caught me working at the Red Frog pub. I got in trouble. Supposed to be on holiday.
Luckily even here there were distractions.
We somehow managed to keep the existence of a lolly shop onboard secret for first three days.
When your mother is a photographer and you’re sick of the same old poses.
The traditional ‘hold my husband’s beer baby belly’ pose. Not that I added to it much on the boat. Beers were about $9 each. Same with a couple of G&T’s and a Southern Comfort I had. You need to keep a tab on your drinks. I heard a couple of ladies ahead of me when I was at the guest services on the last day had rung up a bill of about $3000 and were in tears. Fortunately there’s a Carnival App which not only tells you where all the fun is happening on the ship, it gives you access to a running total of your bill (and the family’s). We ended up with a bill of $410. 
Standing at the bar ordering soft drinks with the kids when there was a dreadful thundering metal thump from above us which vibrated through the floor. I urgently dragged the kids back expecting the whole ceiling to collapse. Did you know some cruise ships have a retracting roof over one of the pool areas? Me too now.
At which point it looks like this. Only this isn’t it. This is the other pool area on the Lido deck. Effectively mirror images of each other, only one has a stage at the end.

They might reconsider playing music in all the public areas now they’ve had me onboard for a few days.
We bought all of us ‘bottomless bubbles’ for the cruise. As much soft drink as we could stomach at any of the bars or restaurants onboard. Cost us $5.50/day for each of the kids and $7.25/day for us adults. Did we get enough value from this? Probably. I didn’t keep count. Biggest advantage for us was we didn’t have to argue with the kids about whether or not they could have a drink – they could. Much as they liked. Plus we didn’t have to sell any of them for scientific experiment at the end of the cruise because of a nasty surprise bill. That sort of thing is worth its weight in lemonade.

We went for a romantic interlude in the adults only Serenity pool area. As you can see from this photo, it went really well. I know how to bring a smile to her face.
Miss6 chucking a tantrum because she’s not allowed to play the machines in the casino and “I was only just thinking I could do with some money.” Weren’t we all.

Disembarking & Cruise Blues

And just like that it was over. Five nights of fun and food and games and booze, and it was time to leave our floating home.

Watching the Sydney ferries from the top decks of the Legend gave us a great idea for how to spend our day before our flight out that evening. Also, I think this is my favourite photo of the cruise. 
How shagged do we look? Not half as shagged as we were by the time we lugged our bags all over Sydney.

Watched seaplanes landing and taking off from Rose Bay. Amazed the kids how planes land and float on water.
Especially when some boats seem to struggle with the concept. Just explaining to the kids how safe the ferries are when we pulled up next to this. Murphy’s much?
In anticipation of their first plane flight.

We met this lovely couple on the ship and had a great time with them, only to find them sitting next to us on the plane from Sydney to Melbourne. Both from Vietnam, Norm was a refugee in the 80’s. Of the three boats which left with his, only one made it to Malaysia. One was captured by the communists and the people put in jail and the other sunk with all souls. He said it was fifty something people in a boat not quite as long as our bus. He says he still has nightmares. Good man. Australia is lucky to have him.

Finally arrived at our camp site in Loch and hit the hay at 1:30am. Transportation for the day was ship, ferry, ferry, ferry, ferry, train, plane, bus, uber, our car, our bus. We’ve been back for three nights and we’re all still fabulously exhausted.

Links you might like to check out:

Carnival website

OzCruising

Raising a family on little more than laughs

This post is not sponsored

6 Comments

  • LOVE all the photos. What a wonderful time you all had.
    You didn’t look that tired at the end of the day. I’m exhausted just reading it all!
    I too love to cruise. Given a choice. I’d pick a cruise over ever other holiday.
    May you have many more xx

  • Great photos as usual Tracy, love all your travels. I hope I am well able to do this cruise when my ‘retirement’ from my caring role comes up!!!!!

    • I have an obligation to monitor my site for nefarious comments. Plus we used the phones to contact the kids so we knew where everyone was on the big ship 🙂

  • Such a wonderful review. So glad your family had a great time on one of our favourite ships and you had the best Captain .

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