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.
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.
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.
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.
We booked internal rooms.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.