A whole new world: cruising with Caleb
The ultimate goal of any holiday is to be able to switch off completely, to turn off the laptop and mobile phone, to unwind and enjoy relaxation time with loved ones, and to not have to think at all. It’s the ease of cruising that has made it an increasingly popular in recent years. Cruises are a fantastic way to have a 'cruisey' (pardon the pun) holiday and let someone else do all the thinking for you. And with a plethora of destinations and options available worldwide, it really should be a consideration for everybody.
While cruising used to be the mainstay of the blue rinse brigade, these days however, cruising really lends itself to people of all ages. Cruises are great for young groups of friends and Schoolies-goers with options poised to fit into every budget it's easy to see how cruising has become the fastest growing market in the Australian travel sector – true story!
With cruising, there's a lot to decide. A cheap and cheerful 3-star local option like maybe a P&O trip around the Pacific, or a higher end cruise line with 5-star comfort and service like Royal Caribbean? An open cruise whereby you will meet people of all ages and backgrounds, or a themed cruise where you know your fellow guests will have similar interests to you? Saving as much money as possible with an inside cabin, or splurging with a balcony suite? Including a beverage package where you literally will drink all you can drink, or enjoying a slower pace and paying as you go? The options are endless but the one thing to be sure of is that you are 100% in control of your own destiny.
The major reason that cruising remains such a popular option is its ease and simplicity. When planning a regular holiday or trip, you're thinking about flights, transfers, accommodation, touring, destinations, seeing as much as possible, meals, currency exchange, safety, health, the considerations are endless. With a cruise, once you've paid your money you can sit back and relax and wait for departure. Once aboard, everything is taken care of. All your meals are eaten in a huge variety of cafes and restaurants and the food is delicious and bountiful. With nightly shows, comedy clubs, discos, concerts and casinos – not mention a variety of bars, nightclubs and lounges to satisfy your drinking habits. Multiple pools, spas and deck chairs take care of your sun worshiping needs. An array of day spa options and activities will keep you pampered. And there’s no excuse not to keep fit with gyms, rock walls, running tracks and yoga classes to keep both your mind and body active. And this is before you even get off the ship to explore the breathtaking destinations you're visiting, either solo or as part of a group on pre-selected shore excursions.
Cruising had never been of particular appeal to me personally until I was going to be in the States earlier this year and really wanted to visit the Caribbean. With flights being notoriously expensive in that part of the world, a cruise seemed to be a great option to unwind and do some rapid island hopping. We booked early and got an amazing deal with Royal Caribbean for under $2000 per person for an ocean view cabin. Added bonuses were port taxes and gratuities paid for and an unlimited beverage package. We were to cruise on the monstrous Oasis of the Seas, one of the biggest liners in the World, and we were to visit The Bahamas, The US Virgin Islands, and St Maarten over the course of 7 nights.
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The destinations were spectacular as expected, but for me the ship itself was the real hero of the trip. The staff and facilities and food and entertainment were all 5-star. Oasis is so huge with so much on offer that we were constantly doing new things and meeting new people, we never felt claustrophobic or bored because we were so well looked after. To be able to have an actual holiday where I could just sit back and relax and not have to think about what was happening next or getting to the next destination was a real breath of fresh air and a complete 180 degree shift from the backpacking holidays I have enjoyed in the past. Before getting on board I was extremely nervous that we had made a bad decision and wouldn't enjoy cruising at all, but I was happy to be proven completely incorrect. And that's the thing with cruising; you make the experience your own. You can join in as much as you like, or sit with cocktail in hand, watching the sun slowly sink over the Caribbean without a care in the world. I can think of plenty of worse ways to spend a holiday.......
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