A Taste of New Caledonia – our journey at Sea <3

Hi there! Welcome to February, can you believe it? This year is just whipping on past, faster than each year before – sometimes I worry that I will wake up at 60 wondering what happened to the last 30 years!

My last post was all about the beautiful Pacific Explorer, the P&O ship which carried us to New Caledonia last September. This little post is about the actual journey from Sydney through to Nouméa – our first island visit on our Taste of Caledonia 8-night tour.

I guess one of the main differences I have noticed in boarding at Circular Quay Passenger Terminal is the number of people there. Also the lack of people in matching shirts. I promise you, that is a huge thing here in Queensland!

The next difference was leaving Sydney heads – I had no idea it was going to be that rough venturing out into the open seas, but with the only comparison being the smooth Coral Sea when you leave Brisbane.

We were rocking and rollin’ pretty early on and the poor little tug-boat helping the Explorer out of Sydney heads. We were in for a rough night – thankfully we had a good room and although frowned upon, keeping the sliding door cracked open a little really assisted with the fresh air. Also ginger ale + Kwell tablets really helped.

Our first evening we spent checking the boat out, trying a cocktail in each of the bars and eating at the Waterfront Hotel. We also made our restaurant bookings for the week. The trick is to really prioritise making these bookings ahead of time, because the bookings can sell out and sometimes it can be really hard to get a table with just the two of you (or with your booking crowd).

I don’t want to sound like a snob or as though I don’t like meeting other people but in all of the times we have had share tables we haven’t had the best luck. We have been sat next to incredibly drunk people, people in thongs and singlets and wet togs (even though P&O advise you won’t be permitted into the restaurants unless you are dressed appropriately – this does not always occur). We have also been sat next to incredibly racist old people and then three girls which erupted into a full-on fight with one another. So….I am all for the table for just the two of us.

In terms of the restaurants we sampled in the first three days we tried the Waterfront Hotel (dinner, breakfast and lunch), we tried Luke’s (delicious burgers!), 400 Gradi (amazing pizza) and we had room service breakfast.

You can book packages before you get on the ship, such as sail-away champagne and strawberries, activities on-board, and room-service.

This was our first big holiday since our Honeymoon, so we really went all-out! We joined bingo, the waiting game, trivia and the stage shows. At the end of the day a cruise will always be what you make it. If you want to relax and lay by the pool and drink cocktails then you absolutely can, if you want to tick every activity off the list then you can. I think we are a good mix of the two and this was our third cruise and we have loved each and every one :).

Theme nights are always a lot of fun, you get to dress up, the ship is decorated and usually everyone gets involved. Our second night was back to school theme and rather than the standard school-girl, high school jock; I took my Gen-Y #basicb attitude and ordered us two matching shirts from redbubble.com.

We went with classic Mean Girls greatness and dressed as though we were members of the Northshore Mathletes. Unfortunately not too many people got the reference and I can guarantee they would have been a bigger hit in Brisbane. On the plus side, we (or I) wasn’t falling over in rough weather in a mini-school skirt at an age far-advancing appropriateness ;).

Our first morning we decided to use the gym facilities before we hit breakfast, the gym itself it pretty well-equiped and they also have a day-spa and exercise classes. Which I thought was really amazing.

Each night we had a plate of canapés brought to our room – this was something we had booked to spoil ourselves and since we booked ahead of the cruise – it wasn’t an out of pocket expense while we were on the ship.

Cruising is so much fun, I will always be an advocate for it when it comes to a relaxing trip away. It is cost-effective, everything is done for you and really when else is a 30 year old going to have the opportunity to smash some carrot cake and coffee and play trivia with some sassy pensioners?

Also – the most amazing thing about cruises, are the staff. Each and every member of the cruise ship staff will go above and beyond to make your holiday memorable and their smiles will light your day right up.

So please, please, please – use your manners, be gracious and tip. Just remember, they can be away from their homes and families for eight months at a time and a little bit of kindness and conversation goes along way!

x C x

P&O Pacific Explorer

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In early 2017, I had an extra week off work and G went back to work after our short Christmas break.

I cleaned the house, prepared my new exercise and food plan, worked out my budget for the next week. Made a decent plan of attack to pay my debt off. You know, the standard boring business of a January approach.

Then something terrible happened. Something wonderfully, excitingly terrible. P&O Cruises had a sale and when that email hit my account I had those excited butterflies and taste of freedom leap into my mouth. So… I texted G. No answer. I called G. No answer…

Disclaimer: G works in a van, he rarely has access to his phone and spends his days on roofs, under houses, in between walls and behind the wheel of his van. It is not entirely reasonable that I would expect him to be available for every text/call.

However – how’s a girl supposed to ignore a sale email? It was $1 deposits and free premium drinks packages per booking. It would almost be as though I was making money by booking it!

Which….is exactly how I told G when he FINALLY called me back (seriously it was only 12 – 15 mins, but when you’re waiting to book something exciting – it may as well be 6 hours!).

So, there’s my summarised version of how I went from Captain Money-Saver for 2017, to ‘WE ARE GOING ON A CRUISE IN SEPTEMBER!!!’

This would be our third PO Cruise. We had been on the Pacific Aria, Pacific Dawn and we were now booked to go on the Pacific Explorer.

The Pacific Explorer, is the biggest and newest ship to the Australian PO family and with a capacity of 1998 guests and at a length of 260 meters – she’s a beauty! We booked a balcony room and had a room on floor ten. We were right at the back of the ship, Portside. Which, although had some restricted view points from the work platform hung at the back of the ship and near our balcony. Which to be honest, is not that big of a deal – it only restricts some photos. Just remember that it means there may be tradesman painting / cleaning the sides of the ship on dock days and your disrobed status is not as private as when you’re sailing the high seas!

Pacific Explorer has 12 different dining options, two different marquee/entertainment areas, an amazing adult only pool / sundeck and bar area, a waterpark, two water slides, a big movie screen near the family area, barefoot bowling, zip lining, and a great variety of bars, pubs and live band areas.

Its decor is one of my favourites of the PO Ships – when was the last time you saw a framed portrait of Leonardo, Elvis or Nick dressed up like Captains? The answer is you haven’t and you need to. Immediately.

Our favourite drinking spot was the Archie Rose Bonded Store – it has amazing whiskey (G) and gin (moî) options and it was where we went before we headed to dinner. There are more than enough dining options for everyone and my advice would be to mix it up.

You don’t need to eat at the same place every day and your food, apart from Gradi and Luke’s included in your fare. We ate at 400 Gradi (by award-winning Melbourne pizza chef Johnny di Francesco) twice – amazing pizza and wonderful service! Luke’s has amazing burgers, hot dogs and fries and is the perfect post-swim place to grab a feed. Although both 400 Gradi and Luke’s do have a service charge, we are talking $6-8 for a burger! So very affordable and is worth it 😊.

After my third cruise, I have a few standard tricks and tips I follow in preparation of boarding a ship. You may find them useful, or you may have tips for me!! I would love to hear them 💛

〰️ DO buy your own antacids, pain relief, sea sickness and gastro-stop. Yes, you can buy them at the shop onboard if you need to – BUT (and this was horrifying to us on our second cruise) – sometimes they are out of stock.

〰️ DO arrive at check-in at your predetermined time. Do not expect to get on early just because you have shown up early.

〰️ DO respect and understand that the boarding process is the same as it would be if you were boarding an international flight. Be respectful, be mindful, be prepared and treat the boarding process how you would the security/immigration process at an airport.

〰️DON’T treat the wonderfully committed employees of the ship you are on like rubbish. These amazing people spend 4-8 months at sea – AT A TIME – use your manners. Say thank you. Say hello, treat them with respect. If you don’t, you may end up with people like G and I behind you – yelling out “please” and “thank you” and “excuse me” in the gaps of your sentences where you have forgotten to.

〰️ DO attend your muster when you are meant to. Don’t wear your jacket to the muster, don’t bring your drink and don’t talk through it. We don’t want to be in a room for an hour with you instead of at the bar either, but trust us – you are the reason this is taking so long 🙃

〰️ DO attend your muster when you are meant to. Don’t wear your jacket to the muster, don’t bring your drink and don’t talk through it. We don’t want to be in a room for an hour with you instead of at the bar either, but trust us – you are the reason this is taking so long 🙃

〰️ DO tip. Just think, could you work on a ship eight months at a time, away from your family and friends – living Groundhog Day without tips, manners and appreciation? No. Be kind. Always.

〰️ DON’T forget that you are on a ship. At sea. Have reasonable expectations. If you remember this, you will genuinely be appreciative of every moment you experience. You are on an affordable, family-friendly, cruise liner. Sometimes for days. You are not staying at the Shangri-La, with access to fresh aqua blessed with virgin tears. Just calm down and stop carrying on.

ANNNDDDDD

〰️ DO HAVE FUN!!!

Have you been on a cruise? How did you find it? What’s your best cruise tip?

〰️

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post.

Please note, I am not paid any sponsorships at all, I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and items, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram, click here – redhead_novaturient

x C x

P&O Comedy Cruise on the Pacific Dawn

For Christmas I was not too sure what to buy my Husband as his present. We had recently celebrated our amazing wedding and honeymoon only a couple of months before. So we had agreed to take it relatively easy on the present-giving. Except we both broke that promise and G bought me a brand new camera and I bought him (us) a three-night comedy cruise!

 

We had sailed with P&O Cruises last year for my 30th on the Pacific Aria, our three-night cruise was on the Pacific Dawn over the Anzac Day weekend. Luckily for us, the Dawn had a face lift before we were on her. All of the recreation areas had been done up and were looking beautiful. We had a balcony room because the ocean view rooms had all sold out and I 100% was not going to handle any sea-sickness in an interior room!

 

Our ship took off much later than expected due to technical issues but that really is not a problem because A) you are on holiday regardless if the ship is moving; and B) the bar is open whether or not the ship is moving ;). A three night cruise is completely different to a week long cruise (no, not just because of the timeframe), because you don’t feel as though you have to rush and take advantage of every activity on-board! You don’t need to feel guilty if you sleep-in, have day-naps, eat too much food and drink too many cocktails. This is the equivalent of a three-night weekend – but at sea and with no cleaning/cooking! Hooray!

Comedy Cruise 7

The Dawn is one of P&O’s older ships and has 11 guest decks, all of the new eatery options, waterslides (fun!), retail choices and also the P&O Edge Adventure Park. The beauty of cruises is once you pay for your tickets – you’ve covered your food, board and most of the activities. The additional costs you need to budget for is alcohol, bingo, whiskey tasting. wine classes, or if you wish to eat at Salt which has a cover-charge. In saying this, it is an inexpensive cover-charge for what you get! Dinner is only $49 per adult and that is unlimited sides, starters, your main and dessert. This is food by Luke Magnan – it is delicious!

Comedy Cruise 10

Salt restaurant also has a high-tea during the day, again at a very inexpensive cover charge ($20 I think it cost us) and is the ultimate day-date. A decent trade for the whiskey-tasting for G :).

Comedy Cruise 11

I love cruises, I call them my in-between holidays. When going overseas on a big holiday is not an option. They are so affordable – once you pay your deposit you can pay off your holiday over many years. You can now even load spending money onto your onboard account over the course of months/years – so you can plan ahead!

Comedy Cruise 8

My tip? Don’t pay full price. Wait for the sales which P&O have several times a year. Sometimes it is for additional on-board credit. sometimes it is free drink packages and sometimes you have the ability to upgrade your room for a small cost.

P&O Cruises– They’re having their Premium Drinks Package sale again now – so jump on it!

There are plenty of places to grab a drink, different shows and live music and of course daily trivia and games! We have been on three cruises with P&O now and I could quite happily go on a cruise every year!

Enjoy!

x C x

Reefs & Rainforest – Cairns, QLD

Cairns is Queensland’s beautiful gateway to the Great Barrier reef and is also one of the larger cities in far north Queensland. Cairns is not only located on the beautiful Great Barrier Reef but it is also blessed with the Daintree National Park in its backyard, filled with rainforest as well.

Cairns his humid as it is pretty and it has around 150,000 people living there. It is laid back, beautiful, relaxing and most of all – friendly, filled with some of Australia’s nicest people. Thankfully we had two days in Cairns, which is perfect when you don’t want to miss out on the reef, or on the forest.

The World-Heritage listed Daintree Forest is one of the most beautiful forests I have ever seen, it is however two hours from Cairns. So if you do have the time, please do – you won’t be disappointed. We were quite time-poor however so we decided to visit the mountain village of Kuranda, which you get to via the Kuranda rail. A place which I first visited when I was around 8 years old in 1994 (pic below).

It was pretty special going back as a 30 year old with G, who had never been there before. The Skyrail Rainforest Cableway glides above the rainforest canopy and then descends into the rainforest, it is around a 90 minute tree and allows time at two different rainforest stations. It was raining when we were there, so brolly’s in hand- we made the trek. If it doesn’t rain, is it even really a rainforest?!

Kuranda itself is a little mountain town, hippy shops, a few decent restaurants and mostly touristy type hops. There is also the butterfly sanctuary (above) which is quite expensive but the money does go towards conservation, so that’s not too bad!

On the way back down the mountain the train journey takes about two hours, if you can – try to get a window seat on the left hand side of the train – this will guarantee you will see out the window and see the view. The seats are quite small because it is an old train but it is really nice. The Barron Gorge, is not to be missed!

Below is a picture of us with our delicious lunches – I had the chicken and G had the crocodile – I cannot and will not a dinosaur haha. I think the Kuranda Skyrail and the transfers cost around $125 per adult and whilst it is expensive, if you can afford it I would definitely recommend it!

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system, and if you have ever seen any tourism ads regarding Australia and more specifically, Queensland – you will recognise it instantly. It is made up of over 3000 coral reefs, 600 continental islands and 300 coral cays. Sadly, the colours in the reef from when I was a kid to when we last went are very different. Unfortunately coral bleaching is a very real tragedy happening to this natural wonder and we (humans) are losing the battle to save it.

My fiancé bought us a private snorkel with a marine biologist (available on the boat we went out on as an additional extra) as my birthday present. So that was amazing, just holding hands and snorkelling out on the reef. We were quite a long way from the boat and on a few occasions I had the ‘what am I doing?!’, but it went well and it was absolutely beautiful. We also had a beautiful lunch, fruit and snacks on the day-trip and I think it was around $250 pp.

Hilariously, one of the most memorable parts of the day was the teenage boy working on the boat who was trying to help some older men and their wives with sea sickness, but they were dismissing him and basically shoo-ing him away. Anyone who has been on the water or is Australian with some coastal knowledge, is aware that if you are feeling sea sick – you need to be looking at the horizon, usually from the back of the boat. When this poor guy was trying to stop them from laying down and shutting their eyes they refused him and became sicker. They all ended up throwing up in the end, the one man who had been particularly rude looked so angry that he was vomiting, his eyes darting around wildly as he scream-vomited into his bag. I thought G and I were going to pass out we were laughing so hard (because he had been so rude to the young kid just trying to do his job and help).

Our time in Cairns was brief, but it was absolutely spectacular and a nice little break off of the boat! One of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen, was as the Pacific Dawn sailed out of Cairns and it was quite misty and it was such a beautifully soft departure, quiet and smooth and really really beautiful – as you can see from the pictures above!

Thanks for reading – let me know what you think of Cairns?

x

You, Me and the Sea, baby – Our Next Adventure!

Happy Tuesday Everyone!

It has been such a long time since I gave this little blog the attention it deserves!

I will be taking the time to bring it up to date, so many little travel stories to complete.

We have 16 days until our next adventure, it is an 8 night cruise to New Caledonia. Our cruise is on the newest ship to be welcomes into the P&O Australia family, the Pacific Explorer. She’s the biggest ship for P&O Aus to date, with capacity for 1998 guests, measuring 853feet and weighing almost 75,000 gross tonnes. Bring it on! We have a balcony room and were lucky enough to score the free premium drinks package (up to and including $12) each, so it should make for a great holiday!

Cruises are so easy, mindless and the best little break. It cannot compete with the epic month+ long adventures I have had in the past, but having that quality time with my Husband is AMAZING.

Our last holiday was our Honeymoon in October of last year, so really looking forward to it!

We sail from Sydney Harbour on 9 September and will visit Noumea, Mare and Isle of Pines – all of which I am really looking forward to. Eight nights on the sea, my Husband, a few good books and R&R!

We have been on a couple of cruises together before, however – if you have any cruising tips you live by – please do share!

x