What I learnt about cruising

Published September 5th, 2014

You may have noticed we’ve got a lil’ adventure sale going on this month, but if the idea of getting all hot and sweaty makes you feel, well, hot and sweaty, here’s a holiday idea that might float your boat. A cruise. Now I know you may be thinking that a cruise is the domain for the newlywed and nearly dead and that the idea of being at sea for days will give you cabin fever or make you horribly seasick. I know - because that’s what I thought. And I’m someone who gets nauseous sitting backwards in a train! Then I recently went on an eight-night cruise with Carnival Spirit to New Caledonia. Here’s what I learnt about cruising. Spoiler alert: I got my sea legs!


Everything is ship-shape...


Everything is super easy

Seriously, you don’t have to lift a finger. You get on, unpack once, and then all you need to carry around is your Sail & Sign Card that has all your dining and safety deets printed on it and acts like a credit card for all your shore excursion trips, frozen pina coladas and room service needs. Too easy. And slightly dangerous at the same time... Tip: Pop your card on a lanyard so you’re even more hands-free.


My night-time companions


Towel animals are a thing

You see a shower essential; like a fluffy cloud, those savvy room stewards see an elephant, rabbit or even a walrus lurking in those terry towelling layers. There’s even a book you can buy to fashion your own towel critter at home. Trust me, after eight nights of having a towel animal perched on your bed waiting for you, a folded towel just won’t cut it anymore.


Green Thunder is all the way up top!


Waterslides at sea are an awesome idea (not)

Carnival Spirit has the steepest and fastest waterslide at sea – the Green Thunder. With an almost vertical 10-metre drop and curving out over the water from the ship, doing Green Thunder was a daily dare on our cruise. You go in the capsule, get counted down from 3, 2, 1 - and then the floor drops away and you catapult around the curves before being spat out at the other end. It was much better the second time, and the third – promise!


Do you like pina coladas? Well, do you?


24-hour pizza and ice-cream cravings sorted

No matter what time of the day or night, you can have a soft serve or freshly made pizza in your hungover hands on Carnival Spirit. So good.


The omelette station was a favourite with the breakfast club.


Embrace the cheese

Think you’re not the type to get competitive at trivia or get your bingo on? Leave your hang-ups at home - you're on holiday - and get into the cruising spirit. While the magic shows and jazz hands song-and-dance revues may not be everyone's cup of tea, the daily bingo on Carnival Spirit draws a massive crowd (around 1,000 keen bingo-ers) with a huge prize at the end, and you’ll find yourself guarding your answers against other teams during a cocktail-fuelled trivia sesh – Sex and the City trivia and musicals? Puh-lease. We got this.


More towel animals. Because, cute.


Tune out

The bad news is that the wi-fi is terrible at sea, but given you are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it’s pretty amazing that you can even access the interwebs anyway! It’s also pricey to connect, so unless you really need to check your feed, take the opportunity to power off and use your smartphone solely as a camera and use the free wi-fi at port instead.


All you can eat at Fat Jimmy's


Achieve balance

No, not by ensuring every bit of culinary real estate on your (massive) plate is covered, although the buffet brekkies are hard to pass up, and the signature chocolate melting cake. Pair your daily pilgrimage to the omelette station (so good!) with a trip to the gym and take the stairs. Those lifts take forever anyway. For some time out, I loved the adults-only Serenity section on Carnival Spirit, not because there were no kids, but because cocktails by the pool with individual comfy pods (that fit a footy team!) and lounge chairs on an open deck are always a good idea.


Tasting all the martinis...


It’s OK to feel like you’re drunk

The motion of the ocean takes some getting used to, but as someone who got carsick on the reg as a kid and still can’t read in a car or bus without feeling nauseous, I did OK. Everyone is different and some feel the movement more than others. Ask your GP or travel doctor about medications to ease seasickness if you are concerned – it’s better to have them with you, just in case. After a few days, you’ll have your sea legs and also get to walk around at the port stops, but even if it’s rough and you’re lurching along the decks like Lindsay Lohan, rest assured everyone else is too!


Martinis - the aftermath


And the customer service award goes to...

Everyone! You’ve never experienced hospitality until you go on a cruise. Like a big floating resort, with around 2,600 passengers onboard, nothing is too little or too big for the amazingly attentive staff to arrange. I got vegan meal options without even asking, my cabin was always immaculate, and everyone was so friendly it was like the happiest place on Earth (sorry, Disneyworld) or is that, at sea?


Cassandra Laffey

Consumed with unrequited wanderlust, I get my fix in 24/7 cities and hippie retreats. I'm still looking for the ultimate combo of secluded beach and major metropolis, and my happy place is a 5-star hotel room all to myself - sigh.