A New Addiction

September 19, 2013

Back to the cruise ship we go! It hasn’t even been all that long since we went our first cruise to New Caledonia back in 2011- to be honest, I think my parents have a cruise addiction or they just really enjoy their cruise cards. Either way I don’t mind a bit.


So, the second time around should be much easier right? If you answered yes, then you are sorely misled. Waking up at ungodly hours in the morning and going for a 3 hour car trip to Sydney never gets easier. Lying in bed trying to persuade myself to get out of my warm, cosy cloud is always difficult. But the hardest part is frantically running around my room trying to find my pants as my parents are yelling at me to hurry up.


The car trip itself isn’t all that bad, as I slept the whole way, oh the perks of being a teenager! As father once said ‘The car trip is an adventure in itself’, only in Chinese of course. Waking up to find that we’re parked outside a McDonalds nearly makes my early morning struggle worth it. As I’m walking towards the doors of food heaven I realise I’ve forgotten a very important thing. It’s before 10:30am – meaning they are still on their morning menu! I was so excited to have my happy meal and toy. First World problems for sure.


At noon we were ushered through the checkpoints in the cruise terminal. There were none of those highly publicised sniffer dogs when we checked in, but we passed through a metal detector and had our ID pictures taken by a pinhole camera. We were issued with cruise cards, our onboard currency – all part of the convenience for “cashless cruising”.


Onboard the ship, the Sea Princess, the atmosphere was like a 5 star hotel: dramatic carpet, strong lighting, mirrors and brass elevators. The deck where we entered was the lowest deck we were able to access – most commonly known as the Plaza. Also on this deck were the Rigoletto dining hall, staterooms and the occasional game of golf.


Above that was deck 6 Emerald. This area was mainly consisted of boutiques selling items ranging from Tommy Hilfiger clothing to bubbles. Also on this deck we had the Traviata dining hall. This was the dining hall we have been assigned to. We: my family and my friend’s family, met there at 5:30pm everyday. We quite enjoyed our dinners, especially the French snails and delicious seafood. The waiters, one from Mexico and another from the Philippines, greeted us with smiles everyday.


On deck 7 Promenade we had quite a few areas of interest, definitely one of the most exciting decks on the ship. Located on this deck was the Wheelhouse Bar. This was a quiet, old fashion styled lounge with a live band at night. The Internet café which may sound sweet and delicious but the prices were certainly not! Next was the Library, which had an elegant atmosphere, the elders liked to sit here playing cards majority of the day. Here you may also find the occasional puzzle piecer-togetherer? (definitely not a word!) You never saw them piecing together the puzzle but it got completed within 5 days, truly miraculous. Then we had the Photo Gallery and shop with photos of passengers taken by professionals on the wall for people to buy. Across the hallway was the Vista Lounge – an extravagant area where most comedy, magic, trivia and game shows were held. At the other end was the Razzmatazz which was an over 18’s clubbing area, and the Princess Theatre where the important concerts and shows were held twice each night and the Crooner’s Lounge and Bar was also located on this deck.


The next floor up was deck 8 Dolphin, which mainly consisted of staterooms, and the Monte Carlo Club Casino, a place where people can spend more money than they have for the cruise. Deck 9 to 11 were mostly filled with nothing other than staterooms.


On deck 12 Riviera we had the Teen and Youth centre, it was where the teenagers, including me spent most of their time. These rooms were fitted with one-way glass where only people inside can see outside. Inside you can find a foosball table, PSP, Wii, board games and very loud music. Opposite the teen centre there was a Sundaes Icecream Bar. You can also find a fitness centre, beauty salon and a spa, which were full of people who want to get fit or pampered. The main attraction on this deck though was the ‘Movies Under the Stars’. The name says it all. Watching a movie on a big cinema screen at night was quite an experience for me.


The next deck was Deck 14 Lido – Yes I know 14 doesn’t come after 12. But the number 13 is bad luck! This floor’s main attraction was of course the Horizon Court buffet – open 24 hours! The menu was changed everyday and every mealtime. This area also had a large centre area where they occasionally had massive food displays that you could eat such as sushi and desserts. On the other end of the ship there was the Rivera Grill and the Seaview Bar. I suggest you use the left exit to get there unless you can hold your breath for quite a while, as the right exit was the only area where people were allowed to smoke.


Now over my past cruise experiences to the Pacific Islands and New Zealand, I have concluded some ‘Rules and Tips of Advice’:


1.     Never wear shorts to dinner. You will be kicked out and be asked to change into long pants. Unless you’re a girl – sexist.

2.     Use the stairs if you’re going up one flight of stairs. The elevators take forever and you may as well use them as exercise to burn off those kilos you will gain.

3.     Don’t pile your food up into a mountain at the buffet; I promise they have an endless supply of food.

4.     Watch out for the toilets – make sure you are standing when flushing. That suction is lethal!

5.     Cruise with your friends and participate in as many activities as you can!


I have now discovered that cruising is a very economical way of travel. The price of a cruise includes luxurious hotel accommodations, unlimited food, lively on-board activities, and nightly entertainment. It’s like being on a floating resort hotel that stops at different countries or ports of call.

During Port Days (when the ship stops at the port), one can go sightseeing, and during  Sea Days (when the ship in on the sea), there are a variety of non-stop programs and activities for people to participate, such as trivia, scavenger hunts, or dance lessons as well as swimming and jogging, or just relaxing in the hot tub. Dinner in the dining room resembles a five-star restaurant, with entrees such as filet mignon and lobster. The nightly entertainment rivalled any Las Vegas-style show or Broadway musical, and the best part? They are all free! Afterwards, you can dance till the next day in the disco, or enjoy a sing-along in the piano bar. With a cruise, you know exactly what your vacation would cost. No more clipping two-for-one dinner coupons, because everything is included!

A cruise is also very easy to plan. You don’t have to get out maps and plan the route; after all, the Captain was driving. You’ll have the same stateroom every night, no more worrying about booking hotel rooms in strange cities. Your meals are made for you and your room is cleaned twice a day, so no more cooking or cleaning while on vacation. There is no need to plan each minute of every day, because each night you’ll receive a newsletter that lists the next day’s activities. It’s up to you to do as much or as little as you want, but best of all, you are treated like someone special. Each night, your bed is turned down and a chocolate is placed on your pillow.

With cruising, my dream of exploring exotic and foreign countries has started to become a reality. Cruise ships sail all throughout the world, to places such as North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and even Antarctica. Each country, or port of call, is like a taste-test, a nibble, and it gives me an opportunity to sample the culture of foreign destinations around the world.


I have a newfound addiction for cruising, much like my parents! We’re already looking at where to go next. But I don’t really mind where we end up going, as long as I’m on a cruise ship with a couple of friends and an unlimited supply of food.

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