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The 4wd bounced along the track through the ancient forest.
The girls sat beside me giggling with each jolt up and down, my heart swelled to watch them having such fun. I sat and listened to our guide telling interesting stories and facts about the Pemberton region in Western Australia.
After the last few hectic months we’d had recently on our road trip around Australia, and the travel blues I’d been feeling, I breathed a sigh of relief.
How good was this to sit back and have everything taken care of? I could actually look around in peace and enjoy the experience.
This is the travel I love. Not that frenetic rush to try and organise and see everything on our own. Well not so much now with kids anyway.
I thought back to a conversation we had with a tourist operator in Margaret River about cruising holidays. She wasn’t too keen on them, but Craig and I both passionately exclaimed,
“No they’re really good. We never thought they would be either, but we loved them.”
Who couldn’t use a bit of this?
Now cruises have their time and place. If you’re looking for adventure and cultural immersion, then it’s probably not the journey you want to take.
But, if you’re a stressed out parent (is there every anything but) who spends 48 weeks a year running around on empty, and when the annual holidays roll around, you only have the energy to collapse on the couch, or you want to have a ton of fun in the sun, then cruising could be for you.
Parenting is freakin hard work
I think I still maintain this travel lifestyle because I know that if I went home, I’d still be collapsing exhausted and stressed of an evening because there is no break, so I might as well travel and have some fun experiences mixed in.
We all need time through the year where we do nothing but enjoy ourselves.
No cooking, cleaning, shopping, planning, managing, organising, bossing, nagging, or crying. Just happy laughter and painted toe nails on the beach cabana!
And if you don’t have the time or energy to plan that sort of a break, then consider a cruise.
I’d love to take a family cruise around Australia right now. In fact, I probably couldn’t think of anything better. It has been a thought that has slipped into my head quite a bit lately and out Craig’s mouth too,
“How good would a cruise be right now? We’d have everything done for us and we could just sit back by the pool and chill out”.
Absolutely. That’s what cruises are about.
So if you’re thinking of whether to make your next family holiday a cruise, here’s why you might want to consider family cruising.
All inclusive price (almost)
Travel in Australia is expensive. But with a cruise you’ve got a very good idea of what you’re holiday will cost when you go cruising.
Almost everything is included in the price of your cruise. You get your cabin, food, and entertainment. You will have to pay extra for alcohol, any offshore tours and should you wish to dine at the fancy restaurants.
Hot Tip – skip the offshore tours and explore on your own. You can walk around, hire a car, or scout out some on the ground tour operators to show you around at a cheaper price.
All you have to do is book your tickets, check in to your cabin, and then check activity schedule every day you’re on board the cruise to plan your fun or relaxation method. #TooEasy.
Just pack your bags and show up with a skip in your step and a beaming smile. Oh, and don’t miss the “Sail Away Party!”
Reconnecting with your family
Because there is no organising time, pressures from life on the travel road, or hectic sight seeing schedules, you get to spend quality time with your children and reconnect with them in a relaxed and fun environment.
They’ll love playing with you in this new carefree light!
The kids have a ball
I’ve rarely seen an unhappy child on a cruise. From water slides, to mini-golf, dancing competitions, craft afternoons, magic shows, and basketball games. It is endless how they can be entertained.
You know what they say, happy children, happy parents.
Kids Club on cruises
Did somebody say Kids Club? We haven’t seen one in months!
I know you’re tempted to shove them in there for the entire day, but really a couple of hours a day works well. They love it because there is lots of fun things to do, but also because they get to make and hang out with new friends. Even the teenagers seem to love it.
Of an evening, there are movie and dancing nights, which means not only do you get a chance to escape to the adults only serenity lounge during the day, but you can also enjoy a date night.
If you want to stay later than 10pm you can hire a babysitter quite cheaply.
Plenty of food options
Okay caveat needed here. You will probably walk off the boat 5kg heavier. I kid you not! From my experience the food is amazing and in endless quantities.
You get the buffet three times and day and the more formal dining with three courses. I HIGHLY recommend you skip the buffet and do the formal meal. The food is better quality and there is less tendency to overindulge.
I think we all want the holiday where we can eat out three times a day and have it served to us with white linen. Yep, all included in the price.
Then there is the fancier restaurant you can dine at, which will cost you more, but if you want a splurge it’s well worth it.
Pools and cocktails
Choose your cruise during the right season and you could spend each day lazing around the pool with a cocktail in hand.
There are usually a couple of pools to choose from. Some have spas and live music. Many ships have an adults only pool area.
We loved the nightly shows put on by cruises. They can be quite extravagant and of Broadway quality.
I’m amazed at how they can continue to dance in high heels while the boat is sailing. There’s also comedy evenings and shows that are suitable for the kids.
There’s typically a casino and plenty of different bars to hang out in with live music or karoke. I particularly enjoyed the piano bar for a fun sing-a-long evening.
Super friendly staff
I’ve found the service on cruises to be outstanding. The crew can’t do enough to help you feel happy.
They tell you their stories, they make funny animals out of your towels when they make up the room each day, and they happily cater to your every whim with a smile.
You can also pay extra to have some behind the scenes experiences like touring the galley, visiting the Captain, or enjoying a Chefs table.
Want to learn how you can work on a cruise ship? Click here for the guide
You can have stop overs
Cruises aren’t so much for the stop overs for me. They are more about just enjoying the experience of having a break and letting someone else take care of everything for me.
But, for some people the chance to get off the ship and experience a city for the day is a bonus. I did really enjoy driving around Vanuatu for the day on our Pacific Island cruise.
Don’t worry if you like to spoil yourself a little while on holiday. Cruises come with with indulgences like a gym – you’ll need it after all the food – a salon, teeth whitening, and lots of spa treatments. You MUST have a bamboo massage. I had one on our Pacific Dawn cruise and it was amazing.
Everyone is happy
I wrote about this once before here. I feel one of the biggest positives about a cruise is that everyone on the ship is on a holiday, so there is just this electric happy vibe that permeates around.
Everyone is having their two week annual relief and having everything taken care of so they can just practice being joyful.
We noticed a similar vibe on Rottnest Island last month, which is basically just a tourist island so everyone is having a holiday and that same happy vibe runs through the air.
And a similar observation, Rottnest does not have cars, like cruise ships don’t. I seriously think that improves our mood tremendously. There’s some sort of freedom and ease that comes with it. Like you’ve been given permission to return to slow and basic living.
The journey is fun
If you’re thinking of a cruise around Australia, then do the happy dance, you get to see some sights without having to take on the long dusty driving. Trust us, it’s brutal. There’s certainly no pool parties or spas to keep you busy while you’re moving.
Well alrighty then, so which cruise should we book ourselves on for now?
Cruises around Australia
A cruise around Australia might be better than ever.
The Aussie dollar is pretty low right now so domestic travel is looking good AND, depending on your departure city you may not have to book expensive flights, like you would if you were travelling overseas.
Ozcruising is an easy one stop cruising web site providing the best deals and the largest cruising range available to the Australian market.
They offer all potential travellers a service to research and book online.
Based upon what we have experienced in Australia so far, here are some of my recommendations for cruising around Australia:
- Queensland cruise on Pacific Dawn – visiting Cairns, The Whitsundays and Port Douglas – three of our Queensland faves. Click here for info
- Sydney to Brisbane on Diamond Princess – this goes clockwise around the country taking in Margaret River, Fremantle, Darwin, Melbourne, Adelaide, Port Douglas and The Whitsundays – massive cruise! Click here
- Western Australia with Princess Jewel – you might want to enjoy the stopovers here – Exmouth and Broome included! Info here
- Tasmania with Pacific Jewel – taking in Melbourne, Port Arthur, Kangaroo Island and Adelaide. Details here
- Tasmania and Melbourne on Diamond Princess – this one hits Hobart and Wineglass Bay! See it here
It’s amazing how many cruises there are available around Australia. I didn’t realise until checking out this website. We have personally sailed on Pacific Dawn and Carnival Spirit and loved both ships.
Do you see a family cruise in your future? Any tips for first time cruisers?