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To cruise or not to cruise

Fat Mum Slim /

If you’ve been reading this blog over the past few months you might know that I gave up a night with Oprah for a trip away. I bloody love Oprah almost as much as I love cake, so this was a big deal. Actually MORE than I love cake {either my love for cake is dwindling or my Oprah-adoration is strong}.

So I gave up Oprah. For a trip away. When I’d run into people they’d ask me where I was going, and that it must have been some amazing trip that I would give up Oprah for. I think they were thinking New York or Paris or the Maldives. But, I gave up Oprah for a cruise.

When I told people this, I got mixed responses… some people were like, “Really? A cruise? I’m not sure you’re making the right decision” and others were all, “Awesome! A cruise! Great decision!”

To be honest, my motivation was the kids. I knew they would love the cruise. I knew it in my bones. I also knew that there was no long, arduous plane ride to get to the location so they were going to be happy… and I was going to be thrilled that I wasn’t going to have to entertain them on that plane flight.

My other motivation was my Ma. At the grand old age {she’s young, I kid!} of 55, Ma had never been overseas… not even once. So I knew that the cruise was going to be great for her too. Time away for me, was just a side bonus.

Anyway, since returning I’ve had countless messages and emails from friends and readers asking about cruising. Most were along the lines of, “Was it really good? Would I actually like it?” So here’s my honest thoughts.

While I was cruising I was regularly thinking about who in my life {friends and family} would enjoy the cruise. I think I actually had it down to a fine art. There are people that suit cruising and those that just won’t. Like my younger sister and her family, they’d LOVE cruising. I reckon they’d be hooked after their first trip. My older sister, she would not like it. She would probably abort the mission at some point. It’s kinda like Bali {or any other popular holiday destination}, people love it or hate it.

I wasn’t sure I’d love it, personally. Ten days felt like it was going to be a long time in the one place, and I was worried I would get cabin-fever or just completely over it. I actually enjoyed it. Like, enjoyed it so much I cried that it was going to be over on the last night. I would do it again as a family trip. It’s not something I’d probably choose for just my husband and I, but that’s because I have dreams for us when we can travel as a solo duo.

For families, it was awesome. Lacey said it was her favourite trip that we’ve done. Lacey’s favourite thing is making friends and swimming, so she had that in spades with the trip.

So what did I love about it? I was really relaxed. I don’t know how long it’s been since I felt that sense of relaxation. The trip had two days out at sea, and then four days at ports {islands} and then another three days at sea for the journey home. I loved that the trip was book-ended with days of doing nothing much at all, and then the port days were jam-packed with adventures.

The ship had a kids club that could be used for kids over two. Lulu hasn’t been in daycare, and she didn’t cope well… and Lacey just wanted to hang with us. The idea of kids club was dreamy to me, but the truth is I was happy to spend time with my little people and for the 30 minutes they were in kids club I felt free and awesome for 17 of them and then the other 13 I started to miss them. I’m weird.

I loved that either way {with kids club, or without} there was so much to do for kids. Each day there’s a newsletter for everything that’s happening on the day, so you can plan the day. The musical shows were early enough for the kids to watch them, and short enough that they didn’t get bored. Lulu would tell you she liked the shows best. She also still talks about bingo too. Lacey loved the Hasbro Games show. They have things like Connect 4 which you play with a basketball and other cool interactive games.

The food was actually really beautiful, which always surprises me on cruises {how do they keep everything so fresh over the 10 days?}. We ate mostly in the restaurant, and they also had a sushi restaurant on board {it cost extra} that made the best miso soup and edamame that I’ve ever tasted. That was a treat for me, and my Japanese-loving kids.

And call me weird, but I loved that it was clean. I may make a creative-type mess, but I need things to be clean and sanitary. I’m weird about it. And the ship was clean. I didn’t have any germ-o-phobe moments. Yay for me. Again, weird.

The port days were really good, and I loved having those adventures to look forward to. The cruise is all about fun, and it really felt that way. The staff were so lovely and happy, and there was beautiful, magical moments throughout the trip – like when it snowed one night, and we sang carols in the atrium.

One of the best bits, was the beautiful friendships I made on the trip. I think it would be great to travel on a cruise with friends, because you could meet up for meals and adventures together. I went with a media group, and I loved meeting up with the other families for dinner and I’ve definitely made life-long friends with some of the people on our trip.

As with any trip, there were things I didn’t love. We had a balcony cabin which was great. I loved the natural light, and the extra space. Last cruise I had a porthole room, and I couldn’t have lived with that for 10 days happily, so I recommend upgrading if you can. We had a port-a-cot in our room which took up the living space, so the lack of room drove me a little bit nuts each day. It’s easily fixed with being tidy and putting things away, and if we didn’t have that cot {which we wouldn’t need for future trips, I’m sure!} we wouldn’t have that issue.

I know loads of people are worried about swells and the movement of the ship. The last cruise I went on had 10m swells, and we really felt it. Hubby got really sea sick. This ship was so much bigger and had more stabilisers and no swell that big, so it wasn’t an issue. I actually think Shane would have been fine, and I’m definitely dragging him on the next cruise we do. I loved sleeping to the slight movement of the ship, and when we were moving around during the day, you couldn’t even notice the moving.

So that’s it. I’m not mad that I gave up Oprah for the cruise. I’m not. I think I made the right decision for me, and my family.

Have you cruised? Got any tips to share?

Or if you have any questions about cruising, feel free to ask – cos I’m happy to give you honest answers in the comments below.

I traveled as a guest of Carnival Cruises {aboard the Carnival Spirit}. All thoughts are my own.

  • Alix

    I’m not sure cruising is for me. However, I could be wrong – a friend went on a 14 day cruise last year – we saw her in port 3 days into it and she wanted to get off. Saw her again at the end of the trip and she was already booking the next one – the cruise magic worked! Glad you enjoyed your cruise experience.

    • It’s so funny Alix, it kinda happens like that. Two days in I was still undecided, by the 10th day I was hooked. I can’t explain it!

  • I don’t really enjoy being on anything that moves and I’m worried I’d freak out that I was “trapped” and couldn’t get off. That said, everyone I know who has been on a cruise has raved about it and secretly, I would love to do a Disney cruise one day. Because Disney! I’m pleased the cruise ticked all your boxes and that you all had such a wonderful time! What magical memories!

    • Disney Cruise, definitely!

      Honestly, it doesn’t feel likes it’s moving that much – but you might be sensitive to it. It would be good if you could get a little taster before committing to a whole holiday!

  • Cruising is on my bucket list. I think it would be a wonderful holiday, but first I need to save up to take five kids. I hoping we will one day before I have the sign up for the senior citizens cruise! Your cruise sounds delightful and has just confirmed it as a must do someday.

    • I’m one of four, and we rarely holidayed because $$$ {and I didn’t feel like I missed out, cos I didn’t know any different}. I hope you get the funds soon. xx

      • Thanks. There are so many other advantages of having a large family. At least they still holiday – road trips! Memories can be made on any budget.

  • Charlotte Gray

    I did a cruise in Hawaii for week two of of my honeymoon. It was an easy way to see all the islands (and cheap) and I didn’t have to think or plan anything (after planning the wedding). The cruise we took was called ‘Pride of America’ (???) and was dated and super cheesy, but we just embraced the cheesiness, drank lots of cocktails out of pineapples and went with it. Loved it, lots of laughs.

    • Miss Daisy

      We did the same thing! Second week of honeymoon = hawaiian cruising bliss 🙂
      Have since done a more sophisticated (read=not cheesy) cruise in the Mediterranean and it was an even more amazing experience.

      • Charlotte Gray

        It was a great idea. I priced up doing all the islands on our own and the cruise just made sense. We did our first week just on Oahu. Best holiday I’ve been in and I’ve been around the world a few time. Hawaii is so special

    • Sounds awesome. I like a bit of cheesy – creates lots of laughter and memories!

      • Charlotte Gray

        And cruising past the big island while lava flowed into the ocean made up for the Abba show which invaded us at the pool bar one night ???

  • I’m so glad you had fun and I really appreciate your honest thoughts about it. I’ve never been on a cruise and I think they sound dreadful but you’ve convinced me otherwise now. You may see a cruise Smaggle this year! How excitement!

    • Is it weird that straight away I though, “Ooooh, what would Smaggle wear?”

      • Not weird at all because it’s a very interesting thought because I’m so bad at dressing for hot weather. Remember when we went to Hamilton Island and I was wearing that floor length wool dress? I would die on a cruise. I would literally stop living.

  • Sounds like it was a great decision! I’m a massive cruising fan after our Disney Cruise last year, but it took me a bit to get into it. Initially I did have the trapped kind of feeling, but after a day or two I got the hang of it, and by day 7 I didn’t want it to end. I could have stayed another week!

    • Isn’t that funny, how quickly it all changes.

      What did you love best about the Disney Cruise? I remember reading your post just recently, but tell me!

      • I haven’t written up the cruise yet. I know, I’m a terrible travel blogger. I travel, but don’t write about it. Crazy. Anyway, Disney. Sooooo many reasons.

        Firstly, the cabins. All cabins are family friendly – the basic style is a queen bed and a set of bunk beds with a curtain between (although there are larger styles too). Your steward makes up the bunks while you’re at dinner and puts them away while you’re at breakfast. So during the day you have a couch and coffee table area.

        Next, I reckon 80-90% of passengers are families. So it’s not that families are welcome, more that the staff are completely focused on making the kids happy, with the philosophy of happy kids, happy parents. The kids clubs are ridiculous. The main two for kids around 3-12 take up most of a deck. There’s themed rooms in there that feel like you’re in Monsters Inc/Toy Story/Star Wars, etc. Lots of computer based games like driving the ship which all the kids were crazy for, an interactive dance floor for playing jumping around games, characters come in and do craft/games/stories with the kids. The kids wear a GPS locator for security and so they can find them when you want to pick them up! Kids club is open 9-midnight every day – you use it as much or as little as you want.

        So much awesome free entertainment. The character appearances are fantastic. They spend so much time with the kids chatting and cuddles and photos. Especially during the morning and evening, you could go from one character appearance to another for hours! The evening shows are incredible quality. One night they had Aladdin which was a shortened version of the one currently playing on Broadway. I was completely gob-smacked with how good it was.

        The staffing levels are incredible. It feels like there’s more staff than passengers. And every one will do whatever it takes to make you happy. We arrived on the pool deck one day and were looking for sun lounges in the shade. Someone offered to help us, but we said we were fine. He kept an eye on us for a couple of minutes then insisted on finding us lounges. He moved several around to set up a spot for us in the shade. He took pride in it! It was almost like I hurt his feelings by not letting him help us. Crazy. And we dropped a chip once when eating by the pool. It was not on the floor for more than 2 minutes. There are staff just standing around waiting for you to make a mess for them to clean up.

        The pool deck was amazing. The waterslide was my daughter’s favourite thing of our whole trip which included Disney World and Harry Potter world. Constant Disney movies playing on the big screen, free icecream.

        I haven’t been on another brand ship, but in the online forums I belong to the constant refrain is – once you go Disney, you can’t go back. It is generally seen as the best in the world. I didn’t hear a single word of complaint or negativity from anyone on board the entire trip.

        The rotational dining is awesome. You are given a schedule to rotate through the 3 restaurants during your cruise. But your servers come with you! You have a team of two and a supervisor who will serve you every night. So after the first night, when you arrive at your table your favourite drink will already be on the table, you don’t have to explain any allergies every time and they will kill themselves to make you happy. Ours figured out we like desserts and brought us every dessert on the menu every night no matter what we actually ordered! Just to try. Crazy. And Animators Palate (one of the restaurants), where Crush talks to you from the screen and you make your own cartoon is super cool.

        I’m not sure how other cruise lines work, but it’s easy not to spend any money once on board apart from tips which are added to your bill at the end. All non-alcoholic drinks are included (although I chose to pay more for a good coffee twice a day – not ridiculously expensive, maybe US 3). So you pay for whatever shore excursions you want (or can just walk off the ship and go for a wander yourselves for free), if you want to buy any photos or alcohol.

        Sorry. Epic comment. We were blown away. All four of us came home from our trip saying that the cruise was our favourite part and how can we save up to get on another one asap!

        • Vicki Palmer

          Hi Kirralee,
          May I ask what Disney Cruise you went on? Did you go to Disneyworld?
          You have explained your time and the cruise exactly how I have been told many times by my son, whom works on the Disney Dream
          My husband and I fly over in Feb to catch up with him and to spend two weeks with him so he can show us around his Disney life.
          He works in the Kids Club as a character (pirate, chef, professor, captain of the storm troopers is his latest role) entertaining the kids.
          We can’t wait to see him and to see him in his dream job.I’m a very proud mum of a young man whom has achieved his only dream, that of working for Disney. Even if it means he lives so far from home.

          • Hi Vicki Wow how well your son has done to get his dream job! That’s awesome. I believe it’s incredibly competitive to get on one of their boats. I chatted to a young Aussie server at breakfast one day. He was only 6 weeks in and seemed a little bit overwhelmed. I think they work them pretty hard.

            We did 7 day Eastern Caribbean on Disney Fantasy. I believe Fantasy does the 7 day trips and Dream does the shorter trips. As I understand it those two ships are almost identical.

            Yes we did go to Disney World. We spent 10 days in Orlando before our cruise going to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, EPCOT, Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal, Kennedy Space Center and Legoland. It was all amazing (my kids are 8 and 6).

            What a wonderful time you’ll have with him! And just wait till you see the adult areas on the ship too! So peaceful and relaxing. Have a ball!

          • Vicki Palmer

            I’ve always loved seeing the world through children’s eyes so it would have been wonderful to see Disney through your children’s eyes especially at their ages. My ‘baby’ is 30 but still has the enthusiasm of a child. I wouldnt change him for the world, just hope we can control his excitement and he’ll remember to feed, water and give us a nana nap. ?But just being with him will be amazing. We haven’t all been together since we all left Hamilton Island three yrs ago. Thats when Adam went to Florida, my husband went to Fiji to work. Can not wait. Thank you for your reply, I will be on the look out for your Disney Blog…?

  • We cruised with our 2 year old & had a ball! I’d love to go again now that my kids would be old enough to go to Kids Club. I loved going to so many different places (we toured through Japan & Taiwan) & not having to pack & unpack, visas, currency, passports, all sorted at each destination – fantastic!! And it would be super fun to travel with a group of friends!! I did put on a few kg from all that food though…… 😉

    • I put on 3kg! What the what! I did eat chocolate molten cake every night though… I think that might have been part of it. SO WORTH IT.

      I hope you get to try it again soon. x

  • Erin Cunningham

    Waking up in a new country each day, without seeing an airport or unpacking a bag, is the winner for me… love love love to cruise. We’ve been P&O and Royal Caribbean and can’t wait to go again 🙂

  • Jenni from Styling Curvy

    Like your Ma I have never been overseas, today we booked 8 nights in Bali retuning to Australia on my 45th birthday. I’m planning on many more overseas holidays and a cruise or two is on the list.

  • I am a silent reader for a very long time now and ha…I guess, today it’s the day :). In germany we also know Oprah, but it’s not a big thing, so I first didn’t understand, what the problem really was (thank you for your cake-Example ;)) to gave up one evening on a Show.

    So I think: You did the right decision and I hope, someday we’re going on a cruise also! Loved your report!
    Best from Berlin!
    dani

    • You are so cute Dani! Thank you for your first comment. ? I hope you’re cruising some day soon. x

  • Vicki

    Wow, Perfect timing for this post…and a little reassuring. We are doing our first time cruise in Feb. And I have spent countless hours researching…we will be heading over to Disney World in Florida first, for eight days then boarding the Disney Dream for four nights and then home again…my stress levels are a little high…due to I hate being out of my comfort zone. My biggest thing is what to pack?? What shoes?.
    So any ideas will definitely help.

    • Hello! Which parks are you going to in Florida? All of them?

      Four nights is a great amount of time for a taster! You do not need anything with a heel on it. That’s my advice. I took some beautiful {yet kinda practical} sandals that could be worn in the day, and then dressed up at night.

      • Vicki

        Hi Chantelle, yes I still need to find that elusive beautiful sandal..the hunt is on. But the dreaded walking shoe has me nervous, I am definitely not keen on wearing running shoes, socks and capris/jeans..lol I’m old but don’t want to look like it.?

        The rest of our stay will be at Old Key West Resort. Our itinerary is in the hands of our son, which is why we are heading over there. He is and has worked on the Dream for three yrs and he has been begging us to come see where he lives and works. He works four mths straight and returns home here in Qld for six weeks. So to say we will see everything is pretty accurate…hence lots of walking…the cruise after will be like heaven. Thank you for you reply and help. ?

    • MelOB

      Hi Vicki, not sure if you are in Aus, but try Holster for gorgeous sandals – I am in love with them (and I’m size 10!) Great for day and perfect for night too!! http://www.holsterfashion.com

      • Vicki Palmer

        Yes MelOB, I live on the Sunshine Coast. Qld.. Thank you I will definitely look at these. I know we will be walking a lot so I’d like something that looks good, will help prevent leg aches and something that pleases a money conscience husband. Not a lot to ask for..lol

  • So firstly that photo of Lacey is stunning! WOW. I think the kids would love a cruise and I’d love one because I’d be away from places that I could clean and wash and do all the things I can’t help but do when we are at home or at a holiday home. Hubby reckons he’d get bored… I’m torn xxx

    • I thought I would too, but I had a healthy amount of boredom/relaxation… but there’s so much to do it’s easy and actually fun to get involved in things. Can you tell I’m hooked? WHO AM I?

  • Cara

    Fantastic post! I followed your whole process from deciding to go to the Big O Show or not! My kids are 7 and 4, my 4 year old is shocking in the car with travel sickness and the 7 yo seems (touch wood) to have grown out of it! Do your kids get motion sickness in the car? How were they on the boat sickness wise? Thanks!

  • Kim

    We have just come back from the same cruise and I had similar thoughts. I didn’t think we’d like it but it ended up being very relaxing, everything is provided/done for you so it makes it so easy. We went with our 1 year old which is probably not the best age for crusing but we travelled with a big group of family as weel so that helped with entertaining/keeping an eye on her. She was too young for kids club but we could take her to play at certain times on sea days. We thought all the staff were so friendly and helpful, by the end of the trip they all knew my daughter’s name.

@Fatmumslim