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

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Dear Captain Planet Generation…we are failing

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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

Isle of Pines , New Caledonia (Ile Des Pins)

Isle of Pines (Ile Des Pins) is one of the many islands in the Pacific which is most known, name was. This is particularly true for those of us on the eastern seaboard of Australia in New Zealand. The Pacific Islands are to Queenslander’s what Mexico is for American’s. It does not take very long to get to, is still another country and is (or used to be), significantly cheaper than holidaying at home. It is know as ‘the Jewel of the Pacific’a and with its white ands, turquoise lagoons and the Araucaria soaring pine trees, the name is well deserved.

IMG_6942We had been due to go to the Isle of Pines second out of our three stops, but due to shocking weather at sea, they switched the ports around and so it was our last stop. We had slept like absolute babies the night before (I am now certain I am accustomed to being rocked slowly to sleep on a ship) and when we woke up from stillness (so strange when this happens, you become used to constant movement!), and drew the curtains back in excitement – the view was absolutely incredible!

The Isle of Pines is not just a whimsical name, it is pine-heaven and the soft breeze which was moving over the island, out across the ocean and softly onto our balcony was unbelievably inviting.

IMG_7000Luckily the group of people on this cruise in particular were slow-movers (or maybe just big drinkers!), so even though we were not the first off the ship (I am not sure either of us have ever failed to take advantage of a buffet breakfast 🙂 ), we were still only the second or third tender off of the ship.

There was pretty sketchy cloud coverage and raining on and off, so it was quite a cool day. We had really failed to plan at all, which was 100% a mistake. We figured we would be able to hire bikes on the island, or even a car – so we could head out to Oro Bay, for which the island is famous for. What we didn’t realise is that the cruise ship companies (to a degree) get the monopoly of the island activities and locations. So without paying for the incredibly overpriced day tour to the other side of the island, we weren’t able to get there.

IMG_7109What you do need to be prepared for travel-wise, is to totally let go of your expectations. What we had planned for the day was 1. Arrive at Isle of Pines. 2. Swim. 3. See Oro Bay and 4. Spend a loved up day together enjoying our last port for the trip. Now, it doesn’t matter where you come from – three out of four in any country is pretty good!

When we first got there, we walked as far as we could, making our own adventure – then we realised how happy we were so we headed back to the main section.After our failed search for a bike/bikes/car or any other mode of transport to try and get to the other side of the island, we decided to head back and ask one of the friendly locals if they could perhaps drive us across the island. We did get a two hour island tour for $25 each (not cheap but not nearly as expensive as what we would have paid for one of the organised! We had an hour and a half to wait for our tour so I think we spent that time, the very best anyone really could.

It involved exploring a completely isolated part of the beach, drinking a beer at the other end of the beach and then having a swim in the incredibly cold waters at another side of the island – where I basically koala’s onto my Husband for his body warmth and could barely move and then eating chips and gigantic sandwiches, which I managed to order in French (win!).

When our private tour departure time rolled around, it seemed our local driver had capitalised on the $25 per person fee and there were two other ladies from the cruise joining us (great!), but there were also four extremely inebriated people from the cruise (who had obviously been drinking heavily for the day) joining us. Seeing as they were obnoxious, culturally insensitive, and absolutely hammered – I won’t give them too much airtime. Safe to say they heavily impacted on the portions of the trip where we were stuck in the van with them.

IMG_7128Our driver explained to us that he was not able to take us to Pro Bay, as only the organised tours through the Cruise company were allowed there when a ship was in port, but he did take us to some amazing areas.

We visited Queen Hortense’s Cave, which involved a walk through a beautiful rainforest and gardens and the inside of the caves were absolutely amazing and the history of the local Queen who hid in these caves for several months during an intertribal conflict.

There were ruins and a cemetery belonging to the original French Penal Colony from the 1870’s at the Kuto Peninsular we were able to explore, which was really cool. Our driver also took us to the Mission Church and the Statue de St Maurice commemorating the arrival of the first missionaries.

It seemed like the quickest day stop ever and before we knew it, the weather had turned nd it was time to catch a tender back to the Pacific Explorer. It was an absolutely beautiful day and I am really thankful we were able to visit such a beautiful place. I highly recommend a stop or trip there if you ever get the chance!

Have you been to the South Pacific? How did you like it?

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

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.

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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.

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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

A love for travel <3

One of the most amazing things to occur after you have been planning and saving for a trip after many months/years is when you arrive at your destination. You are no longer glued to that photo somebody else took and which you downloaded or screen-shotted many moons ago. You are there. Finally.

And you know what? Nothing is more beautiful than that moment. I say this a lot, but honestly the most breathtaking moment I have ever had whilst travelling was when I was in South America and I saw Machu Picchu. Anyone who knows me, will vouch for the fact that I am rarely without words, but Peru…Peru silenced me. I had planned the trip for almost two years with my girlfriend Jemma and to finally be there was just amazing.

The first time I knew I wanted to explore the world, I was not quite six years old. I had the most vivid dream. I was exploring waterfalls and caves with my Dad, I think we were in Africa or Asia (or whatever combination my brain had concocted at such a young age). When I was telling Dad about our adventure and he told me I had just been dreaming, I actually thought he was having me on. How could I have dreamt something so detailed? Also, how was I going to deal with the disappointment that I had not been there?

I became obsessed. I WAS going to travel the world. One day. When I was six we went on our first overseas family holiday, to Bali. I have really lovely memories of this trip. Catching the plane with my family, coming across people who neither spoke English or Anindilyakwa, as was spoken on Groote Eylandt where we lived. It was one of the most exciting weeks of my little life – so many beautiful things to see and smell and taste, people to meet. Amazing!

I came home with braids in my heart, a hundred new stories to tell the kids at school and a burning desire to travel. Being a mining brat, I had the ability to see a fair bit of the top end and east coast of Australia, because we typically moved every two years for Dad’s job. I used to pour over and harbour any travel articles I could get a hold of and I wished for a subscription to the National Geographic magazine for years and years.

Then puberty happened. High school. Jobs. Wagging School to go to the beach. Parties. The usual. Sure enough, by the time I was 17 I had planned my next big adventure, I was going to live in London and work in a pub, like nearly every third or fourth Aussie at the time. I went to uni instead.

Then I dreamed of teaching English in Japan, which then changed to working in a ski field in Canada, then back to possibly landing a job in the UK. Then I changed jobs, changed degrees and decided to travel on leave instead.

I must have planned three or four big trips which never came to fruition. I always had friends with the best of intentions, but when it came down to the crunch, they just were not willing to part with ever spare dollar to save it for a holiday. My friends didn’t want to wear the same clothes all year, miss out on parties and dye their own hair. Which was completely fine, my dreams didn’t need to be my friends dreams!

Eventually at 23 I decided to bite the bullet and just go away on my own. I had my sights set on South America. My Mum gave me a firm and resounding “NO” to her 23 year old daughter running off overseas on her own. So instead, at the pleading of Mum/Friends/Employer, I booked myself onto an arranged Contiki tour instead.

This would turn out to be one of the best decisions I ever made, I met some amazing people, experienced the high of travel I had been seeking and knew that every sacrifice I had made in the past was worth it :).

I am pretty sure I would have had Dad over my shoulder (who had since passed), carrying me along my journey – remembering the five year old who animatedly “remembered” an international adventure all those years ago xx

When did you know you had fallen in love with travel?

x C x

Our 2018 European Adventure

Hello everyone!

First of all, a massive thank you to you all for your continued support and interest in my page. This page was started many years ago, as a form of a travel diary. A place to share my past adventures and connect with other like-minded bloggers.

In October of last year, I decided to start a separate instagram page Courtney Gaye Travels. This was my little space to share photographs and moments from my past travels. I am really pleased with the way it has gone. I have connected with some amazing people, found some incredible accounts and have had the amazing opportunity to find this incredible community of people with whom I have been able to seek inspiration from.

IMG_9206At the moment my page mostly shares older posts and photographs, however I am hoping this will continue to develop and to grow. I love sharing and connecting with others.

I am a proud Brisbane girl, I have lived here for over half my life and I cannot see myself living anywhere else. I was married on my beloved Brisbane River in 2016, work in the Brisbane CBD and try to spend as much time as possible exploring all that this beautiful city has to offer.

My Husband and I met when we were both away for a weekend, we took our first overseas trip together in 2014 and became engaged in New York City. We spent the first six months of our relationship findings pictures of places we wanted to explore and sending them to each other, slowly but surely building our bucket list.

This year we will be ticking off quite a few of these bucket list destinations, during our European adventure. I have decided that I would really like to share these adventures with everyone.

I hope to hear from you on this platform, or through instagram and even via email. I have a facebook page as well, if that is more to your liking. Either way, I am here to connect with people and I am so excited to see your journeys and learn from each and every one of you.

Thank you for your follow, see you out there :).

Courtney Gaye

x

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

Sydney in September <3

IMG_3037‘The greatest trips are the unexpected ones’ – Anon

Sydney is the type of destination which makes you think of the Sydney Opera House, the Botanical Gardens, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, insanely expensive coffee and hipsters by the barrel-full. It also makes me think of insane traffic, way too many people and a city which has a constant buzz of energy and activity!

G is originally from Sydney and he did his apprenticeship all around Sydney (think 17-year-old driving a van with a trailer on the back of it), so his driving and people-handling capabilities are far more advanced than mine!

After I surprised G with the news I had booked us a cruise in September, just a mere two days after sitting him down and going through our budget and determining we needed to cut costs and be responsible 30-somethings…. he leapt on board and confirmed that we would be doing it in style!

We booked our airfares and booked the Shagri-La for our pre-cruise stay. The Shangri-La in Sydney is divine, it has views like no other in Sydney and if you can afford to splurge and stay there, then I highly recommend it! We booked an Executive Grand Harbour View room, which although pushing $500 a night, does have views of the full harbour. The Sydney Opera House, the Rocks, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the beautiful harbour in all her glory.

The bathrooms are like no other, think marble bath and shower and plush towels and bathrobes. 50sqm of pure heaven and the views, my goodness the views! The rooms are located on levels 22-29.

DSC06606My favourite thing about the Shangri-La is that if you do arrive before 2pm and your room is ready, you are more than welcome to check-in earlier than expected. There is a gym, all day dining at Café Mix, amazing food at Altitude Restaurant and the Blu Bar on level 36. My tip is to get up to Blu Bar well before sunset, because it does get packed and secure yourself a front-seat view to the orange beauty which is a Sydney harbour sunset!

I have some amazing girlfriends who live in Sydney and we often travel interstate to see each other a few times a year, so we were lucky enough to be able to meet up with a late lunch at Cruise Bar, which is in the bustling Circular Quay. The view is beautiful; it has an amazing selection of wine and cocktails and the house made flatbreads with dip and salt and chilli squid is delicious! After spending a couple of hours here, we made our way up to the Blu Bar (get the Thyming Tokyo or Yamazukara ;)) and enjoyed the sunset.

We then headed out to Harts Pub around the corner and enjoyed some sparkling wine and waffle fries and then it was time for us to say goodbye and head back to our hotel to get ready for dinner.

Our dinner reservation was at the amazing Saké Restaurant at the Rocks and we had been looking forward to this dinner for months! It was like watching two kids at a candy bar once our amazing server handed us the menu! So, I won’t bore you with the details but our menu looked something like this: sashimi combo, spicy tuna rolls, Hiromasa kingfish, edamame, popcorn shrimp and the cape grim short rib bo ssam. You can go ahead and unbutton your pants and take a few deep breaths after reading that if you need to, we sure did!

Drinks consisted of the Hatori Hanzo (Bombay Sapphire gin, Yuzu sake, jalapeño pepper, cucumber and elderflower), E-momo-ki (cherry-blossom themed) cocktail, a Master of Malt Japanese whiskey tasting board (Mars Maltage Cosmo, Suntory Kabukin & Hibiki Japanese Harmony) and we finished with the phenomenal Miso Caramel Dragon Egg for dessert. We basically had to roll ourselves back to our hotel afterwards!

We spent an incredibly comfortable night in our amazing king-size bed and kept the curtains opened so we would wake up with the sun rising over Sydney heads. We woke up just before 5am and were lucky enough to watch our home for the next 8 nights make her way through the harbour and dock at Circular Quay. This was amazing to watch, from our bed with our room-service coffee!

The Shangri-La gym was our next stop and then we made our way to the famed breakfast buffet and before you know it, it was time to leave!

Matching flamingo shirts at the ready, we made it to the ship – dropped our bags – celebrated with some Prosecco and it was time to start our New Caledonia adventure!

Where are your favourite places to eat and drink in Sydney?

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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 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?

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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