PSA: I actually started writing this in Jan but I completely forgot to finish it so here it is 7 months later 😂
Anyone could be fooled into believing that cruises are full of oldies who hit the hay at 9pm each night, leaving an eerily empty ship in their wake.
However, as I discovered a few weeks ago, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, some of them outlasted us youngins’ at the club.
I recently had the pleasure of sailing on Royal Caribbean’s ‘Explorer of the Seas’ for 8 nights from the 4th of January with 3 fabulous friends for company. *Side note: How much does that sound like a sentence those travel bloggers write when the’ve been sponsored to go on a trip by the company? #pleasesponsormeRC.* Our ship took us to three ports throughout New Caledonia and Vanuatu, with 2 days of sailing to/from the islands.
‘How to Avoid Starting Work for the Year’
Our first stop was New Caledonia’s capital, Noumea. Knowing that the city itself wasn’t much to look at, Steph and I tagged along with the fam-bam on a trip to Escapade Island which is where I snapped this gem:
Screw a house deposit, I’m making a *hut deposit
Upon arrival, we were treated to a majestic fresh seafood feast and spent the rest of the day lounging by the pool and snorkelling amongst a beautiful array of fishes. We even spotted a sting ray and got to glide with the most chilled out turtle I’ve ever seen.
Fun fact: I was attacked by a baby sea snake. It started to wrap itself around my leg and when I felt it tugging I lowkey freaked out and almost lost a flipper in the process.
Our second stop was at a secret gem in Vanuatu known as Mystery Island. Well, I can only assume it was a mystery before all of the cruise companies discovered it and started spruiking it as just that.
At just 1.5 square kilometres and completely uninhabited, it’s easily missed. Yet somehow, over 65,000 tourists flock its shores each year and when they do, it’s filled with an abundance of markets, massage huts and boards advertising an immeasurable plethora of snorkelling tours. For only $30 AUD, we were taken out to their three main snorkelling spots and spent 2 hours immersing ourselves in their underwater kingdoms.
Our third and final stop was in Mare, New Caledonia where we spent the afternoon lazing around on its sandy shores.
By this point we’d realised how soon the trip was ending and were taking every chance we could to soak up the sun and keep ignoring the stresses of life back home. It was total bliss and I’d kill to be back there again.
Now, with all of the pretty pictures out of the way I feel like it’s time to chat about the cruising experience itself.
I feel like 90% of the people reading this post wouldn’t have been on a cruise before, so I’m going to channel my inner mythbuster and combat some common misconceptions below.
Myth: There’s nothing to do but play bingo and lounge by pool.
Fact: There were people who loved being on the ship so much that they didn’t even get off at the islands. No joke, there was always a bunch of ladies who made a beeline to the pools when we ported (arrived at a new destination) because it was the only time the pools were relatively empty.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that those cruising days are a waste of time but just wait until you see all of the activities they had. Each morning we’d get a new copy of ‘Cruise Compass’ which was a little leaflet that listed all of the activities going on and info about upcoming ports.
Here’s the one we got on our fourth day:
From movies to live ballroom dancing and karaoke nights, there was an abundance of things to do for everyone of all ages.
We weren’t planning to see any shows but ended up seeing like 7 #whoops which were all amazing. There were a few dancing showcases, some late night-comedy shows and even a proper ice skating show which had us on the edge of our seats the whole time. I don’t know about you but I struggle to ice skate normally, let alone in the middle of the pacific on the lower deck of a rocking ship.
There were heaps of poolside competitions too and outdoor movies shown on the big screen each evening. Watching the latest Pirates of the Caribbean from the comfort of a Jacuzzi was definitely a highlight, though watching Steph’s face as she judged the ‘Sexiest Man’ competition was something I’ll never forget either.
Myth: Cruise Food is bland and repetitive
Fact: Two words: Unlimited Buffet.
I’m so shattered I didn’t take any proper photos of the Windjammer (the buffet hotspot where we ate most of our meals) – which was probably because I was too busy loading my plate with food. Honestly, it was one of my favourite places on the ship.
Each night would have a different theme where you could drool over food from a specific cuisine. Our favourite was obviously Mexican night where we channelled our inner Old El Paso girl when deciding between tacos and burritos.
Themed food only made up a small portion of the meals on offer each evening, with a range of delicious delicacies that ranges from my beloved crispy calamari to heavenly cakes that even the Cookie Monster would fawn over.
Even with my ridiculous list of intolerances, I was able to eat mouth-watering, filling meals each time without having major #ragrets later – and that’s saying something. So in short, the food is fab and you’ve got nothing to worry about.
Myth: You’re crammed into cabins like sardines
Fact: We ain’t living in Titanic ages no more, there’s plenty of space to go around.
Luckily, our group managed to nab adjoining balcony cabins, which let us wake each other up by simply shouting across the railing at each other – though we preferred to use secret door knocks #oldschool.
Having a balcony was great for hanging clothes to dry but honestly, I wouldn’t have minded a room with a big porthole window like I had on my first cruise. Even if you’re stuck in a cabin with no window, Royal Caribbean’s ships are so high tech that you can get rooms with virtual balconies which project a live stream of the outside world.
Myth: Its full of old people
Fact: Whilst oldies are always inevitable, we actually met quite a few people our age.
We met most of them in the evenings at the resident nightclub Dizzy’s.
At first we shunned the idea of hitting up the onboard nightclub, out of fear that it would be full of the aforementioned oldies, but we soon realised that it was the exact opposite. After 11pm the loveable resident DJ, DJ Tony, came out in full swing and pumped a mix of classic RnB hits with a sprinkling of absolute bangers. Everyone our age would come flocking for a boogie (lol now I sound like an oldie) and have a genuinely great time.
Just stop and think about this for a second: When else could you go out and party until the early hours of the morning and be in bed exactly 3 minutes later? That’s right, never. If that doesn’t convince you to go party on a cruise I don’t know what will.
There’s a lot more I could say about those nights, involving 3am Jacuzzi swims, but as they say in Vegas – what happens there, stays there. Needless to say, I’d go on another cruise in the blink of an eye – just as long as I’m with friends who know how to have a good time on/offshore!
Adios Amigos *insert ship emoji*