On the 13th November 2016, my friend and I embarked on our first cruise ever. My friend is a long-time country music fan and was looking for something that fell on or around her birthday, so we booked the Cruising Country Number 6 through a lovely travel agent, asked whatever questions seemed important at the time and set off on packing all the cruise wear we could lay our hands on and stuff in our suitcases. It seemed like a great adventure: 8 nights away to New Caledonia and Vanuatu with plenty of on board entertainment and food included. What could go wrong? Surely we would be in for a surprise? Right?
The cabin wasn’t as small as I thought it would be.
It was actually quite nice and fairly comfortable with plenty of storage space and mirrors (for those of you who can’t go anywhere without putting on your face or checking your hair 200 times a day, the Legend of the Seas has you covered). The shower, on the other hand, was tiny with a curtain that occasionally billowed. We forgot to pack pegs (a tip we received from people who had been on the cruise before) to attach to the ends to weigh it down. Oops.
Boy howdy do I get sea sick! Mental note: never say “boy howdy” again. It doesn’t suit you.
I knew I would get motion sick as it was quite common in my childhood on long car rides. And I had a couple of tablets that I took in preparation even though I kept thinking “it’s a big ship, they have stabilizers, I’ll be fine”. But that first morning after being at sea really knocked me around. We had no window or natural source of air and the idea of traipsing up 9 set of stairs to get fresh air on the pool deck turned my stomach further. I really struggled the whole day to keep anything down and quell the nausea. My friend was both equally concerned for me and annoyed that I was interfering with her plans to do stuff together. “Oh, gee, I’m sorry, I’ll just magically click my fingers and get over it. How does that sound?” I joke. Kind of.
If you are 35 or under you will feel extremely young.
Yep. The dominant demographic on the cruise seemed to be 40 – 80 years old. There’s nothing wrong with those ages… it just makes it hard to connect with people when they are well and truly not in your age group and share different interests. But, hey, bonus points for getting to feel youthful. I did enjoy the square dancing though. We had a nice mix of older square dancing cruisers who were more than happy and patient to guide us through the steps. It felt like a good ice breaker and I only wished we had done it earlier in the cruise and not towards the end.
Be prepared for stairs.
Sounds pretty obvious, I know. I seriously don’t know why the concept of stairs didn’t occur to me until after we boarded. But with 11 decks on The Legend of the Seas we got a decent leg work out on a daily basis. There were elevators but they took forever. And there was usually a queue for them. Who’s got time for that? Not us! *cough* impatient *cough* I had it in my head that I would make use of the on board gym. Hahahaha. That didn’t happen. The stairs were enough for me.
Tours or destinations can be cancelled. With no notice. So it’s a good idea not to get too attached to a destination or activity as we found out. We had a tour cancelled and refunded due to lack of interest (it was the one tour we booked that my friend had her heart set on. Disappointment ensued.) and we also missed out of going to the Isle of Pines due to bad weather. I can’t really be disappointed on that one though as I had never been there before and did no research. Ignorance is bliss.
If you’re an introvert like me, you might want to go with more than one friend.
Or pick your friend wisely. Look, it may have been a clash of personalities between my friend and I, but I felt I would have enjoyed myself more if I had at least one of my other friends along too. And I hate saying that. It’s nothing against my friend of course. It’s just that when we travel together we clash. When we agree on things we get along great. When we don’t I feel like I either have to tread carefully and keep my mouth shut (lest she challenge every comment I make) or we argue and I feel critcised and judged for not wanting to do something. Which puts both of us in a foul mood before we move on and get over it. Ah the price of travel companions. It’s great, isn’t it?
Props to my friend though. She dragged herself out of the cabin and socialised far more than I did (and located most of the “young” people). My stubbornness didn’t help. The more she pushed me to go out drinking til the wee hours of the morning, the more I dug my heels in and said no. I just felt like the tag a long friend and door mat. Which meant I fled to the cabin whenever she was looking to ditch me. But that’s my issue and nothing to do with the people on board or the cruise itself.
Be prepared for friendly staff and the odd towel animal.
I knew staff would be polite and helpful but I didn’t expect them to be as friendly and accommodating as they were. Which is wonderful. They make the effort to learn your names especially if they are in charge of your cabin area or your assigned wait staff in formal dining. It made a difference. The towel animals were a nice touch. The rabbit was my favourite. But I may be biased as they used my sunnies to make him even cooler. The lighting wasn’t the best with my camera but here are some shots:
Being at sea isn’t as boring or lazy as it might sound.
Sea sickness and anti-social tendencies aside, I did have fun moments. Highlights included:
1.) discovering artists I had never heard before and actually enjoying seeing them live. Which was nearly every single one of the entertainers we went to see.The level of talent and range of music styles really did cater for almost anyone.
2.) Rock climbing. Yes. They had an outdoor rock climbing wall towards the back of the ship. I can now cross off rock climbing as something I wanted to do. Sort of. Maybe I’ll mark it down as my practice run as I feel I could do better.
3.) Square dancing. We also tried line dancing but I didn’t like that as much as I often got hopelessly lost and tuned out the longer it went on. At least with square dancing it felt more inclusive and you were more lead through and helped. My friend was the opposite of me and enjoyed line dancing more than square dancing. No surprise there. Told you we clashed in personalities.
4.) Exploring Yejele Beach at Mare, New Caledonia. So pretty. So many good photos of blue water and palm trees. Down side: the sand was not that soft and shredded our precious feet a little. Still worth it.
Post cruise sickness.
Oh my god. I lost my voice by the end. And no. I didn’t party hard or sing along or talk too much. By the time we docked back in Brisbane I had a chronic cough, no voice and the makings of a cold. I was over it. I wanted to go home but had to wait until that night for our flight as my friend wanted to make the most of Brisbane while we were there. Needless to say, it wasn’t until 1:30am that I crawled into bed and plugged in my flat phone which I hadn’t been able to use all day as we had packed the adapters the night before leaving.
Thanks to a Facebook group of people on the same cruise I was able to find out I wasn’t alone. Some people got chest infections. The general consensus was the air con had spread the bugs throughout the ship.
Overall, it was an experience I am happy to have shared once. I just won’t be cruising any time soon. Maybe in 20 years. Or if my immune system hardens the hell up.
I hate ending on an unhappy note, so please, enjoy this mini slideshow: