Australia · Courtney's Travel Tips & Tricks · New Zealand · South Pacific / Australasia · Travel

Cruising Holidays: Pro’s & Con’s

After all of these years, I refuse to be a travel-snob. I get no satisfaction in entering some tireless debate about whether 5✩ or backpacking is ‘real’ travel. Hostels v. hotels. Taxis or the local bus, so on and so forth. Travel is an incredibly personal experience, I just don’t think it is fair to compare your preferred travel with others.

What I do support and encourage however, is sharing knowledge! Let’s foster a community where we share what we know and support everyone in their own chosen method of travel, yeah? Great!

My first cruise was on 2010, I was excited because my brother had just turned 18 and we wanted to go on a trip together. So a couple of friends and my brother booked a 7-night cruise to the South Pacific. It was a great escape during the winter but here is why it was not so great:

sharing a quad room with four adults, none of whom are in a relationship with one another, gets…cramped.

having a quad room down in the bowels of the ship and not checking whether or not anyone gets sea-sick, can be problematic.

↑ being stuck on a boat without an escape and having the same places to drink / party every afternoon / night.

↑ Four people having the inability to decide what they do / do not want to do.

↑ having your room down on the party-level of the ship and not partying = sleep can be tricky.

Basically my clearest memory of my first cruise, was feeling like I was in a washing machine when we hit high swell and feeling rather violated (personally and financially) when I paid nearly $200 to cop a needle in the backside to stop my sea-sickness.

In 2016 my fiancé and I headed out on a new cruise and boy, it could not have been any more different to the first one! We had a balcony room on the beautiful Pacific Aria. We were on deck 10, near the coffee shops. We had pre-paid most of our activities and had scored a complimentary drinks package. We spent seven nights cruising up / down the beautiful Queensland coast. We visited Hamilton Island (a place close to both of our hearts), and Cairns. The cruise was amazing, the staff excellent and the experience itself turned me into a total cruise convert!

My top five reasons as to why I love cruising:

  • Everything can be pre-paid. Including sail-away inclusions. Want champagne and strawberries for your sail away party? You can have it.
  • The day of the Bain Marie’s where you self-serve eating areas are gone. Instead you line up and have pleasant and good-safety aware people serve you. There is nothing more repugnant than watching someone stand at the Thai beef salad / prawn salad area and pick all of the meat out, leave the place in a mess and sneeze all over the uncovered food. So for me, I think ta wonderful that P&O have changed the way they serve food.
  • Activities for days! Unless you are completely ignorant, you are able to fill your days with a variety of activities. Sure Bingo isn’t cheap, but it’s worth it for a bit of fun. If you aren’t playing yourself, get to the area early and watch the bingo die-shards go in for the kill! It’s amazing!
  • Tricia and game shows are also great. They also show movies up at the top deck with the pool.
  • You don’t need to pack and unpack at are such destination! You just grab what you need for the day and take off! Its amazing going to sleep somewhere out in the ocean, being gently rocked to sleep and waking up against the incredible backdrop which is Cairns!
  • If you’re after an adventure packed holiday, then a week at sea on an all-expenses paid cruise may not be for you. However if you need a break and you want to board a boat, unpack your stuff and then have everything organised and paid for ahead of time, then I cannot recommend a cruise highly enough for you.

Some tips:

  • Your travel insurance may not automatically cover cruises. Double check the fine print and know that there is cruise-specific travel insurance out there.
  • Drinks packages are worth it, if you are planning or drinking more than three or so beverages a day. Keep in mind they are normally capped at $12 or $15. If you purchase a drink above this amount, the total cost will go against your account. Keep that in mind.
  • The water package is worth it. Buy your six bottles, keep them in your room and I guarantee you will value it.
  • Tea and coffee from the barista is worth it.
  • Tip your stewards. We tend to go with around $5 a day for the cabin stewards and leave a rounded tip at the end of the trip. Don’t pinch your pennies.
  • Be friendly! Talk to your stewards. Get to know them. Know that anyone serving you spends up to eight months on these boats. Away from their friends and families. Kindness is free. Don’t be ignorant. I spent a good half hour shaming a guest on our last cruise, whose stance was “they don’t mind being away from home, it’s a great privilege to work on these boats”. Okay. Ignorant much?
  • The restaurants on board, aside from usually one or two are included in your fare! Try them at least once. Your out of pocket is usually drinks and a tip. Want a date night with table service? Give it a go. You won’t be disappointed.
  • Have fun! Relax! Sleep in. Enjoy it and go with the relaxed vibe there is. Things take a little longer. Remember the other people on the ship also paid to be there. So just avoid unnecessary aggression and if the line is too long where you are, then move on to the next!

P&O have a sale at the moment and seeing as you can book and pay off your holiday years in advance, you really have nothing to lose!

To check out their current offers click here. They currently have $1 deposit sales with free room upgrades. We have been on four of them and quite honestly, I cannot wait for the next one!

I have never bought a cruise holiday when it wasn’t on sale or didn’t have some amazing additional perks thrown in (on-board credit, drinks package, dinner credit etc.,). The beauty of this is they are on sale all the time!

Here are a few links to get you started!

P&O Cruises

Travel Insurance Saver

Trip.com

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! 

Please note, I have not been paid any sponsorships at all for this post, however some of the links in my blog posts may be affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

To follow me on Facebook – you can do so here – Courtney Gaye Travels FB

If you are a Pinterest fan – you can find me here – Courtney Gaye Pinterest

x C x

New Zealand

Alternative Activities to do in beautiful Auckland!

Lying in the South Pacific Ocean and as the first place in the world to greet the new day, is New Zealand.  Affectionately known as the ‘City of Sails’, Auckland was chosen in 2014 as one of the Top World cities and with an incredible history, stunning scenery and a culturally diversity to her, it isn’t hard to see why!

Auckland (Tāmaki-makau-rau), is the largest urban area in New Zealand and whilst it is an essential port for any traveller visiting New Zealand, this vibrantly modern and elegant city is a melting pot of culture and truly has something to offer for all walks of life, visiting timeframes, travel-styles and budgets.

acs_0215

© Flickr – Chris M. The very beautiful Mt Eden

If you’re feeling adventurous, head on up to Maungawhau, or Mt Eden as it is known. It is the highest of Auckland’s volcanos and has an absolutely magical view of the inner-city. Climb that mountain with nothing less than enthusiasm and make sure your outfit is #gramready!

You could spend hours (days?) planning how to eat and drink your way from Kumeu to Waiheke Island, but if you are after some CBD-local treats then I have some choices for you which are sure to delight your tastebuds!

© Giapo, New Zealand – amazing edible creations!

When you are in Auckland and your sweet cravings are tantalisingly present, a recommendation guaranteed to delight your taste-buds and eyes is Giapo, located on Gore St in the CBD. An explosion of creative & delicious delight, Giapo has had its praises deservedly praised and has a menu for all! Remember the first time you dipped your Macca’s chips into your soft-serve and the brain explosion of sweet + savoury? Well, the amazing team at Giapo has their incredible Hot Chips in a Cone, sure to delight anyone who tries it! The kiwi favourite Hokey Pokey gets its own spin, and the #instafamous The Colossal Squid is a thing of beauty. Only New Zealand organic milk and fresh produce is used and the ice cream is made from scratch every day! The team at Giapo has also opened their kitchen for kitchen tours and they are loved throughout Auckland and New Zealand and for good reason!

You’ve heard of the Auckland Sky Needle, and possibly the Skywalk but have you heard of the Skyjump?! What’s slightly more ridiculous than being up a 192m tall tower? Jumping off of it by wire at 85km per hour, that’s what! The best part? You are completely responsible for jumping (hurling?) yourself off of it. If it makes you feel better, just remember that falling that distance at that speed should only take around 11 seconds.

You can organise a day trip out to the Goat Island Marine Reserve and can kayak in clear kayaks, imaging being able to watch the fish underneath your kayak?! Glass Bottom Boat Tours have one and two hour hires, safety equipment is provided at no extra cost and you can explore Goat Island’s rocky edges, view the kelp and seaweed forests, fish and other marine life, all just below the water’s surface.

clear boat

Pic © Abigail Kathleen (Trip Advisor, 2017)

If you’re looking to experience the city in a way you have never seen it before and hear authentic and spooky stories of Auckland’s sordid history, then a lantern lit ghost tour of her historical streets filled with murders, hauntings and other ghoulish business may be for you. Auckland Ghost Tours are sure to delight you with their dark history of the city.

escape-rooms-new-zealand-logo

© Escape Rooms Auckland

Sure wine tours are fun, but have you ever tried to beat the clock to escape a themed room while solving puzzles along the way?! Escape Masters brought the first escape room to New Zealand and Auckland CBD (Queen Street) offers up several different themed escapes (haunted, bank-heist, alien, etc. bar mafia). If the idea of escaping a horror themed haunted motel doesn’t get your blood pumping then you’re a stronger person than I!

© BodyFX, Street Art Murals Auckland, 2017

If you have ever thought about reliving your obsession with Buffy, Angel (I am a painfully basic 90’s girl, it is true), True Blood, The Walking Dead or Z Nation – then you should visit BodyFX and take part in a professional makeup course in Auckland. The Principle Artist and Director of BodyFX, Yolanda has over twenty years experience and offers a wide range of courses for everyone. Perhaps a creative makeover before your ghost tour?!

Miss Moonshine’s in Ponsoby cheekily refers to their offerings as ‘grilliant food’ and with their slow cooking, wood smoking, rubs and distinctive smoke favours – she certainly caters to every BBQ fan. I know that their eggplant with refried beans and mac and cheese are on my wish-list for my next visit!

You may not have an Auckland holiday planned anytime soon, but if you find yourself having a stopover in Auckland soon, I hope you enjoyed this list of alternative activities to take part in during your visit and that you too experience the wonder which Auckland has on offer!

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! It is my greatest pleasure to share with you my own personal experiences, adventures and places I have researched for upcoming trips! 

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

To follow #OURSEQld on Instagram click here – Our SE Qld

To follow me on Facebook – you can do so here – Courtney Gaye Travels FB

If you are a Pinterest fan – you can find me here – Courtney Gaye Pinterest

x C x

Australia · Courtney's Travel Tips & Tricks · Europe · Lifestyle · New Zealand · North America · South America · South Pacific / Australasia

Dear Captain Planet Generation…we are failing

https___blueprint-api-production_s3_amazonaws_com_uploads_card_image_590555_d3393e87-9da0-40ad-b34d-ef4154894d65

Captain Planet….if you grew up in the 90’s you would remember him and the Planeteers (Kwame, Wheeler, Linka, Gi & Ma-Ti anybody?). These guys were the reason six year old me understood environmental disasters & devastating destruction long before I ever learnt it in school! We were the generation they were after, they were talking to us – we were going to be the ones to turn it all around.

Except…Did you know that since 1993, we have lost an area of ‘unspoilt’ places twice the size of Alaska? Or that humans have destroyed a tenth of Earth’s remaining wilderness in the last 25 years?

With ecosystems being lost there is no ability to reverse the damage and although there is still approximately 30m sq. km of wilderness across the globe, that only equates to 23% of the world’s land mass. In saying that a large portion of this is Australia’s deserts and western woodlands.

For those of us in Australia, our environmental movement really hit its peak in the eighties and the Australian Labor Party began capitalising on national conservation and soil conservation.

We are incredibly fortunate in that Australia has over 6000 Landcare and Coastcare groups nationwide. We are respectful of climate change, sustainability, animal protection and of course environmental care as a whole.

As we continue to experience the effects of the damage we have caused to our beautiful planet, a sustainable economy is more important than ever. We need to live within our means and try to use natural assets rather than depleting them and work to bring pollution to a level that our environment can actually handle, rather than damage it beyond repair.

Sadly, Australia is surprisingly one of the lease sustainable countries in the world. The AEGN confirmed that we as a nation have an ecological footprint which is 2.8 times the work average & our carbon emissions are four times the world average.

So how do we, as Generation Y try to give back to the environment which is home? How do we respect and care for all of the beautiful places which has given us land, rain, clean water, incredible ecosystems, animals, fresh air and healthy oceans (AEGN, 2018)?

Our oceans have the highest marine biodiversity in the world and our native plants and animals are found only here, in Australia. Along without carbon footprint and carbon emissions we have the highest rate of animal extinction and our extreme and dangerous weather events are increasing each year. Whilst there is natural attrition, we humans are responsible for almost all of the damage.

The AEGN is working hard to provide marine sanctuaries, to stop large-scale land clearing, to set up wind and solar farms and provide education around climate change, to protect biodiversity and restore land and to advocate for the proper use and protection of our fresh water supplies. We rely on grants and groups to get this done. So how can you help? Well, have a look at the following tips which I either follow or will begin following and see how you go. I would also love to hear what you do, let’s be the generation Captain Planet thought we would be and step up to the challenge of protecting Earth for the next generation.

  • Walk & bike to local destinations, rather than taking your car
  • Use a refillable water bottle and avoid buying/using plastic water bottles. Did you know that there are 370 million bottles going to waste every year & that these will take over 400 years to break down (ProAcqua, 2014). Australia’s use of bottled water generates 60,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year!
  • Dry your clothes using a clothes-horse or clothesline instead of using your dryer (these bad boys are one of the biggest energy-sucking appliances in your home).
  • Use a keep-cup for your coffee (it is estimated that Australians use 1 billion disposable coffee cups each year. That’s 2.7 million paper cups thrown out every day! (University of Melbourne, 2018).
  • Use reusable bags when you do your groceries (Greenpeace found that Australians use over 9.7 billion single-use plastic bags annually) (Greenpeace, 2017).
  • Use cold water for your washing machine
  • Unplug your electronics at night to stop them using electricity
  • Use digital documents and avoid print-outs
  • RECYCLE, recycle, recycle (the average Australian produces 1.5 tonnes of waste per year and much of this is avoidable!) (Greenpeace, 2014).
  • Buy products with the Energy Rating which is high, this is a mandatory scheme for most appliances and the higher the star-rating the better the appliance (Australian Government, 2013).
  • Adopt a water conservation strategy (fix your taps, use a water-saving shower head, keep your tap water in a bottle in the fridge, use your washing machine when you have a full load and on cold, install a water tank, don’t overwater your lawn etc.,) (Nature Australia, 2018).

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! Please note, I have not been paid any sponsorships at all for this post. I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

To follow OURSEQld on Instagram click here – Our SE Qld

To follow me on Facebook – you can do so here – Courtney Gaye Travels FB

If you are a Pinterest fan – you can find me here – Courtney Gaye Pinterest

x C x

New Zealand

Christchurch, New Zealand

There is nothing more beautiful in this world, than making lifelong friends under the most peculiar circumstances. You wouldn’t really think that meeting someone from another country whilst travelling in a group of early twenties misfits, drinking your way across Europe, could result in a nearly decade-long friendship! I am incredibly fortunate to have the friends I have, the travel stories I have collected and the opportunity and ability to head overseas purely for a catch-up!

Jemma and I met in London in 2009 and we have since travelled the world together, in 2011 we were travelling across the states and we met Natalie and now the three of us frequently try to catch up with each other. We take turns between Queensland (me), New South Wales (Nats) and New Zealand (Jemma). When we met we were all early to mid-twenties and single, so we were used to making up our own rules and heading off to wherever, whenever we could. Fast forward and we all have long-term partners and thankfully, they all get along and we as a group of six, pretty unique personalities, also all get along. Honestly, I had heard that things all work out the older you get I wasn’t really convinced. Yet here I am, 32 and with some of the most amazing social groups I could have ever hoped for. 16-year-old me would be cheering to know that the drama does stop one day and you can have an incredibly functional and rewarding friend group!

Last year we had an amazing weekend down in the Hunter Valley and the year before that everyone came to Brisbane for our Wedding, so luckily it was New Zealand’s turn! Nats and I had visited Jemma in NZ a couple of times before, but never with the guys – so this was a lot of fun! Both Nats and Tanner and G and I flew into Christchurch from Sydney and the Gold Coast within a couple of hours of each other. Jem and Alex were both working on Friday so we had time to sleep in and then a few hours to walk around Christchurch – which is such a beautiful city – I just love it there :).

To truly get our ‘tourist-on’ as Nats declared, we decided we would book on the Christchurch Tram tour – which was a really fun little activity. It is as touristy as you would expect and to be fair you could definitely just walk around at no cost, but it’s always fun to get out and about and support the local economy you are in! Our tram driver was really lovely although there was a bit of an awkward moment when the description of the traffic 2011 earthquakes which killed 185 people was described as ‘..a really, really, it was…um, a really low point’. Let’s all just agree that in order to keep tourists comfortable, we shouldn’t downplay the terrible tragedy which Christchurch endured and continues to endure today.

It was time to head back home, pack our bags and get ready to head off on our Purau overnight stay! Christchurch is such an amazing city and more than that, it is a survivor – both she and her people are brave, resilient and friendly beyond comprehension. Even those with little would give you the shirt from their back if you asked. I am sad I was not able to experience Christchurch before the catastrophic damage from the earthquake occurred, but I am very thankful that I have been able to return three times in the past six years and see the gradual improvement and rebuilding. Christchurch has a long way to go and the destruction and loss is raw and evident – don’t let this stop you from visiting this beautiful city, she has a lot to offer.

To learn more about this beautiful city, try the following link.

Christchurch Tram info.

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! Please note, I am not paid any sponsorships at all, I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

To follow me on Facebook – you can do so here – Courtney Gaye Travels FB

x C x

 

 

Australia · Europe · New Zealand · North America · South America · South Pacific / Australasia

A Celebration of Women – International Women’s Day

 

Today is International Women’s Day (IWD), and it is celebrated on 8 March every year commemorating the movement for women’s rights. First observed on 28 February in New York the year 1909, it was confirmed at the 1910 International Women’s Conference that 8 March would become an ‘International Women’s Day’.

Each year there is a different UN theme, this year it is The Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives. IWD is an official holiday in several parts of the world, including Afghanistan, Armenia, Cambodia, China, Russia and Turkmenistan. Countries such as Croatia, Romania, Bosnia and Chile celebrate the day, although it is not a public holiday.

team-motivation-teamwork-together-53958.jpegThis years campaign is heavily focussed on #PressforProgress – on global activism for equality for women – heavily fuelled by movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp (amongst others). The world is aiming for gender parity and shockingly, the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report findings suggest that gender parity is over 200 years away!

#PressforProgress is a call for us all to motivate and unite each other, our friends and colleagues, our communities to act, think and be gender inclusive For more – read here.

There is no denying that the last year has been tumultuous in terms of the struggle for women’s rights. You only need to observe the inauguration of Donald Trump, the fallout of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the rise of #MeToo & #TimesUp campaigns to understand the significance of this years IWD.

IEGO9851

A little snapshot of the IWD which I have found really interesting is below:

  • In 1010, Clara Zetkin became the first person to table to idea of an International Women’s Day
  • Later in 1910, 100 women from 17 different countries gathered to formally establish IWD and in 1011 when this occurred, more than a million people rallied in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland for women’s voting rights
  • It was officially declared by the UN in 1975.

So why do we need to keep celebrating it now? Surely women’s rights have improved? Could this really be as prevalent as it was 108 years ago? The answer is yes. We continuously need to mark this event because although huge progress has been made, much more needs to be done.

pexels-photo-567633.jpegThe income of female workers worldwide is predicted to continue lagging behind males for another 70 years and it has also been suggested that the gender pay gap will not fully close until 2186.

One in three girls in the developing world is married off before her 18th birthday and more than 140 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of female genital mutilation. Two thirds of the 774 million illiterate people in the world are female and only 7.8% countries in the world have a female head of government.

For me, being a feminist means respect and an aim for equality – at the core of it it is the struggle to end oppression. I am fortunate enough to live where I do, be in an equal and loving relationship and hold both a Degree and a well-paying job. In 10 countries, women are legally bound to obey their husbands and only 76 countries have legislation that directly targets domestic violence; with just 57 of them including sexual abuse.

pexels-photo-568027.jpeg

This year I have donated to the UN Women National Commission of Australia – Link is here.

  • $48 you can help provide food for a woman living in a shelter for a month.
  • $98 can deliver a young woman’s leadership program.
  • $156 can ensure women have access to legal services.
  • $456 can provide financial and literacy and business training for three women to create sustainable enterprises.
  • $873 can support a safe hour to protect women from domestic violence.

IMG_8750This International Women’s Day, let’s continue to empower each other and work together to ensure women are safe from violence and have choice and opportunity.

Happy International Women’s Day!What do you wish you could change for women in today’s world? I would like to see everyone in this world have access to mental health care.

Some of the beautiful ladies in my life, at my Hen’s Night ❤❤❤.

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see!

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

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

x C x