Updated: Feb 22, 2019
I've been lucky enough to get away for at least one international trip a year since I moved home from London, but the P&O Cruise we did in 2016 really ignited MJ's passion for adventure. Setting sail from Auckland, we embarked on a 10 night cruise to New Caledonia, the Loyalty Islands and Vanuatu to celebrate MJ's birthday.
We got a fantastic, all inclusive deal through our travel agent. Such an amazing price but I think it's because our cabin was at the very front of the boat, apparently it's the place that gets the most motion - uh oh, I get VERY seasick. But we got upgraded to an ocean view room so I bought multiple packets of Sealegs and hoped for the best!
I now see the appeal of cruising, it really has something for everyone, no matter what age. There are always activities happening onboard, they drop off a timetable the night before so you can plan your day and a lot of them are complementary (we're proud to say we won the music trivia quiz one night!). You're assigned a steward to look after you for the whole trip (who also leaves a cute towel animal on your bed every night). It was nice being able to visit a number of different destinations and not have to pack and unpack every time.
They have kids club too, one for little ones and another for older kids. MJ loved this and while it was just us two, he used to go each afternoon for a couple of hours while I had a nap! And they all put on a talent show at the end of the trip.
The main restaurant is buffet style and offers a range of great food, there's always free tea, coffee and water too. There are other restaurants onboard, some are included and some are an additional cost. When we opted for more formal dining we had the same waiter every night, he knew all our dietary needs and knew us by name in no time. They were so welcoming and friendly.
There were themed parties too like the Gatsby night and the White party. You need to bring outfits for these, most people get involved and it's a great night. They do try to get you with the photos though. They take beautiful shots at the parties and at each destination but they are EXPENSIVE! Nice to have a memento but they'll cost you a kidney ;)
The shore excursions we did were fantastic and well organised. I highly recommend booking these before you go. It saves you wasting time lining up to do it once you're on the ship. We picked just one excursion at each location which helped us stay on budget.
Don't bother with the WiFi - it will 100% blow your budget! You don't get mobile reception on the ship either but there are a few free spots at various locations like Vanuatu (in the big duty free store in town) and the whole city of Noumea has free WiFi too.
Here's a list of the excursions we chose:
Maré - Standard beach access for the day (it was the only thing on offer here)
Lifou - Cultural Village Tour
Port Vila- Glass Bottom Boat Cruise with Snorkelling
Isle of Pines - Boat Cruise and Swimming with Turtles
Noumea - Tchou Tchou Train
Swimming with turtles was one of our life highlights! The most incredible thing to witness and the colour of the ocean is a blue I've never seen before. Watching MJ feed pieces of a baguette to a swarm of the most colourful tropical fish you've ever seen in Vanuatu was pretty amazing too.
If you're looking for a trip with something for the whole family, that's reasonably priced and packed full of fun, I can't recommend a cruise enough. We'll definitely be cruising again (and we weren't seasick once!)
- Kiki & MJ