Here’s how I caught the feels for cruising
If you had asked me just a couple of months before disembarking Brisbane’s Portside Wharf if I wanted to go on a week long cruise in the South Pacific I would have said, mate, you’re dreamin’, have another crack.
Fast forward not too far ahead, and there I was quitting my job in New York to move back to Brisbane and ready to do some soul searching amid some serious sunbaking (with SPF 50+ of course), nose stuck in a stack of books I’d been meaning to read the last four years, aboard P&O’s Pacific Dawn.
Now some of you might be thinking this is the part where I reveal how I’d lost my marbles and was about to go find a deserted island in the Pacific to reenact my very own Chuck Noland and Wilson bromance a la Tom Hank in Cast Away.
Sorry to disappoint but what came next was something that I also did not expect. I should preface this by saying that I’d just quit a job in New York that had afforded me some pretty cool travel experiences and luxury perks like attending Mexico Fashion Week with my own personal driver, photographing festival-goers at Coachella and reporting at conferences in Las Vegas.
It’s safe to say I was leaving behind what many would believe to be a dream job so maybe I was just a touch mad. So why one of the first things I did on returning to ‘small town’ Brissie, was to go on a cruise? If nothing else at this point I had developed such an acute case of ‘yolo’ if you will that I would have done just about anything so I guess my reasoning was something along the lines why the hell not?
What do you even do on a cruise?
Basically I wanted to find a way to switch off all my devices (wifi on board is pretty scarce), enjoy some sunshine, catch up on reading, snorkel in some clear blue water, never have to cook and instead dine on three (sometimes four) course meals and drink champagne from a hot tub looking at the sunset over the ocean while doing some serious thinking.
And I found out that cruising is the absolute best way to do it. Not only could I not check any of my social media but I literally couldn’t call or contact anyone unless absolutely necessary, or hear about anything that was happening out in the real world.
Let me introduce you to shore tours
The first afternoon on the ship following the sail away party (you soon learn there are parties for everything and on every night of the cruise) I got straight to business, putting on my bikini and heading directly to the Lido Deck, book, and cocktail at hand.
The first two days at sea were basically spent eating, drinking, sunbathing, reading and enjoying some of the great little up-and-coming bands on board in the evenings. Then on the first shore stop, I embarked on a rather comical cheese and wine tour of New Caledonia’s capital city of Noumea made comical by the friendly and hilarious tour buddies.
The next day then was a beautiful beach trip to the island of Lifou and one of its stunning white sand beaches where you were able to snorkel straight from the beach. There are snorkel and flippers for hire on board the ship, however, I’d brought my own goggles and being a pretty proficient swimmer had a blast exploring the reef by myself. There was some pretty cool looking coral with plenty of colourful fish and a turtle or two closer to the jetty to see.
For lunch, there were markets, run by the locals in a nearby village, under a thatched roof with woven baskets, sarongs, and collectibles to shop too. The next day and on the final stop of the cruise was Vanuatu’s Port Vila on Efate island.
While I did some pretty laid back duty-free shopping in town there were heaps of adventurous shore tours to choose from in Vanuatu. There was jet boating, big game fishing, waterfall eco tours, certified scuba diving at the Konanda Wreck, canopy zip lining, kayaking and rainforest horse rides plus heaps more.
Ordinarily, I would have jumped at all of the adventures on offer however in the spirit of my laid back relaxation I’d like to think I got my dose of adventure by jumping in a little water taxi to scoot over to town from the wharf. If you’re up for it this is a fun way to get a sweet view of the Vila Bay on your way into town and is much more exciting than taking a regular taxi.
After all of the excitement of the past few days island hopping I was happy to sink back into my routine of relaxation and eating on the return to Brisbane. With a couple more parties (Jazz Age and the Farewell send off) it was a fitting way to end one of the best trips I’ve ever had.
However, it was quite a shock to the system when I arrived home a couple of days later to realise there were no more personal chefs, room tabs or bed turn down services at home. Oh well, time to book the next trip...
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