It all started a few years ago when my darling mum decided to take a much needed break from her two adorable children and take a week long cruise with her best friend. They did so much planning, research and packing that it seemed the day was never going to arrive. Questions like “Can you take alcohol on board?” followed by “Which cruise lines limit the number of children on board?” were flying around our house for months on end.
It took years of constant begging, website links emailed at midnight and possibly a couple of tantrums. My family are so pro-holiday and travel that it seemed impossible that they couldn’t and wouldn’t agree to what looked like, to me, one of the greatest holidays of all time – A cruise.
When they left, we only got a couple of hurried updates via email, with mum blaming it on the price of internet on board. But we knew better – they were just having way too much child-less fun to write us back.
They returned, showing the rest of our family photos of their exploits and adventures on-board as two married, yet happily child-less and husband-less free (for that holiday at least!), women.
I was hooked.
For the past few years, I have begged. I have pleaded. I have done dishes and laundry and mopping before asking.
Before I continue, let me explain that I have been on plenty of incredible holidays. Luckily, my parents valued travel over a private school (still received an excellent education, thank you very much!) and for that I am eternally grateful.
For three weeks in 2011, we toured 6 states and nine cities/towns in the USA. It was an absolutely whirlwind trip where I saw and experienced so much it’s impossible to put into words. In 2012, we stopped in Dubai for 4 days before flying on to Austria and Switzerland to ski in Verbier for one week (Switzerland) and Lech for one week (Austria), as well as visiting Geneva (3 days) and Zurich (unplanned but we got snowed in in Lech so had to catch a later flight from Zurich – so awesome!). My sister and I are lucky that our parents love to ski and travel, otherwise we would never have seen as much of the world as we have.
But the thing is…they don’t like relaxing holidays.
Mum on every skiing holiday ever: “We’re in the snow, you can’t spend the day in the hotel room…you have to ski!” (Perisher 2003, Salbach 2006, Whister/Big White 2008, Niseko 2010, Vebier/Lech 2012, Big Sky 2013, Steamboat 2014)
Parents: “Why go to a tropical island and lie on a beach when you can hire a yacht and sail it yourself?” (Tonga 2009, Thailand 2010)
So the cruise took an awful lot of work to get them to agree to make the cruise the yearly holiday instead of a ski resort somewhere. Dad still wasn’t convinced and was Googling possible ski holidays up until the day we left for the cruise, but it was finally happening!
My sister and I were beside ourselves – ten nights in our very own, balcony room aboard the Pacific Jewel! I found out later that the only reason mum booked two balcony rooms is because I have a tendency to get seasick, but score!
As we walked up the gangway, I have to say that I was in a bit of shock. You always see pictures of cruise ships and tell yourself how massive they are, but that’s nothing until you’re on board. I’ve heard P&O Cruise Ships called tacky before, but I disagree. The chandeliers and grandeur everywhere felt like I’d just stepped aboard the Titanic and was back in the 1920s.
Though mum didn’t book the cruise ship from Carnival with the waterslide (Quote: “Georgina, you’d use it once”), the whole family were pleased to note that there were approximately nine bars, four restaurants and wine/cocktail tasting classes on board. And a gym, because that’s obviously the most important thing when you’re on a holiday.
When on board, you get given a itinerary daily of everything happening around the ship. By the time my sister and I unpacked on the first day and walked in to check on our parents, mum had already circled everything she wanted us to do.
“So we’re going to go to the lifeboat drill, then wine tasting, then lunch, then cocktail making, then deck quoits, then trivia, then dinner and then karaoke,” she didn’t pause for breath as she rattled off our plan for the day.
“Or…we could lie on the deck in a bikini and do absolutely nothing,” we suggested.
Her face was one of pure horror, and at that moment we realised that we had been conned again. There was no way that we were going to be allowed to spend our days blissfully soaking up the sun as we navigated the South Pacific Islands. No! We were doomed to a life of karaoke, trivia and wine (not that bad!).
The cruising experience was definitely amazing and I will be going again. It’s not very often that you can say that you spent your days working your way down the cocktail list with your parents and siblings, as well as snorkelling in remote, tropical destinations and dressing up in classy outfits to go down to dinner every night.
It was an experience which our entire family enjoyed (even Dad, though he does have his eyes set on a ski holiday for this year!) and there is so much to do on board that we came back to real life feeling like we needed another holiday. Good job mum, you succeeded!