Until just recently, I had never been on a cruise. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that it probably wasn’t my scene. There’s the obvious stereotypes, that cruises are just for old people – and I’m not old. Well I don’t think that 38 is old. Yet. Plus there’s always been cheap airfares to exotic, volcano-filled islands, which have lured me, and my whole family overseas for holidays in the past. So when the opportunity popped up for me to get away for a weekend, to experience my first cruise with P&O, I thought this would be a brilliant chance to see what all the fuss was about. And I’m glad I went.
I was lucky enough to be on one of the ‘themed’ cruises that P&O offer – the Comedy Cruise to be exact. It was basically a brilliant opportunity to experience a mini Fringe Festival in the week before the epic SA one kicked off. With a mix of comedy magicians, Bob Downe, stand up comedy and even a ‘come up and try’ comedy event – we weren’t short of entertainment. P&O also offer food and wine cruises, and even celebrity cruises – but as a starter, the comedy cruise was a perfect fit.
1. You Don’t Need A Destination
The Pacific Eden picked us up on Friday afternoon from Outer Harbour (don’t make the mistake I did thinking the Port Adelaide Passenger Terminal was IN Port Adelaide – it’s not), and sailed around the Gulf of Port Vincent for the weekend, before dropping us back there on Monday morning, in time for work. While you’re going to need Friday off work, it’s a great little timeframe that ensures maximum relaxation with minimum effort.
2. You’re On Holidays Straight Away
What I loved was that from the moment I stepped on board, I was on holiday. There was no travel time as such, so we could head straight to grab some lunch, and hit the pool, and the bar, before the ship set sail.
While I managed to leave my husband and kids at home for this trip (sorry guys!) I did take note of the family aspects. The complete lack of travel time would mean an IDEAL family holiday, as my kids are 4 and 6 and travelling anywhere with them can be a nightmare. I LOVE the idea of avoiding all that drama. But I digress, let’s get back to footloose and fancy free Kelly who had no kids and made the most of it.
3. It’s Not As Small As You’d Think
Once you’re on board and settled into your room (they are quite spacious considering you’re on a ship – and there is STACKS of storage, so it’s easy to completely unpack and feel organised), we went exploring.
4. There Are Food Options Galore
There’s a central food hub called The Pantry which is an international marketplace of nine fresh food outlets. It’s like a giant food hall with lots of little stalls – one for Mexican, one for Chinese, one for burgers etc. It’s forever changing, so there are loads of options – and it’s all inclusive in your package so there’s no lines to pay.
Keeps things quick. If you have a group though, seating at meal times is always packed so make sure you send a scout out to find some seats for your crew.
There’s also a range of restaurants on board, and bookings are essential.
One of my favourite experiences was the chef’s table, which allowed us to enjoy a gorgeous, gourmet dinner, with matched wines, for only a small additional fee on top of our ticket price.
On this particular ship, we also got to indulge in a dinner at Luke Mangan’s restaurant for a taste of truly gourmet amazingness. And yes, you can buy his cook books while you’re there.
I can imagine the food and wine cruises would be a blast to check out, as P&O really know how to cater to their guests.
5. They’re Really Focused On Hygiene
Some of my friends were panicked that I was going on a cruise as they’d seen occasional news articles about gastro on board ships, so when I stepped on board and saw hand sanitiser everywhere I went, it was reassuring. There’s hand sanitising stations going in to, and out of food areas, and there’s plenty of signage in bathrooms reminding people to wash their hands and keep clean. It’s something to keep mindful of when on board, but if you stay vigilant, you can avoid any unnecessary germs. It’s certainly no reason to avoid cruises.
6. Get Organised
There’s SO MUCH TO DO on board! If you plan ahead, you’re going to be able to do everything on your wish list. For entertainment, get in early to grab the best seats, and as I mentioned above, book your restaurants as many of them fill up before you’ve even left dock.
7. Pack For The Elements
We packed pretty well for the cruise – the fact that you can bring a suitcase on board means you’ve got room for options. My tip would be to bring clothing you can layer. Our on deck the winds can whip up and it can be chillier than you expect, while inside it’s quite comfortable so you don’t need heavy clothing. Obviously dressing for the time of year and destination will also help.
As I’ve mentioned above, there’s stacks to do, and plenty of dining options to explore, but there’s also day spas, zip lining, a gym, and activities galore. There’s also a nightclub, plenty of bars, and relaxing lounges and cafes to kick back in. Or just grab your sneakers and wander the boat to easily hit your 10,000 steps for the day.
8. Some Must-Have Essentials
In our cabin, we didn’t have an ironing board, but we were saved by my travel MUST – a handheld steamer. I bought mine from Target for around $40 and it’s been a life saver. I use it camping, cruising, and even on business trips – as I find it faster than ironing, and with many hotel irons being substandard, and ironing boards lumpy, I definitely prefer the steamer. Plus on board this particular cruise, it saved us lots of time as our friends had to wait for concierge to bring an iron to their room.
Another handy bring-along was a bluetooth speaker. It was brilliant in our room while we spent time there, plus we also took it poolside for some low key tunes while we enjoyed our cocktails. Obviously if you’re taking music out on deck, you need to be mindful of other passengers.
10. Come Solo, With Your Partner, Or With Friends
Cruises are social! There’s plenty of ways to meet new friends if you come along, otherwise grab some mates and make an adventure of it. If you’re after a relaxing getaway with your significant other, there’s also lots of ways to enjoy that. Or bring the family. There’s no ideal way to enjoy a cruise – it really does cater to everyone!
11. The Entertainment Is Amazing
Love the Adelaide Fringe? You’ll love the Comedy Cruise. The comedians were world class, and the audience LOVED every minute of it. I’d go just for that portion, yet there’s so much more on offer. It’s now an annual thing, so it’s easily something you could go back year on year for, as a great warm up to Fringe. Or just because.
For more info on P&O Cruises, head to their website here.