Cruising is the cilantro of the tourism industry. You either love it or hate it.
I was worried I would fall into the latter category.
So, when I was invited to come cruising on to the Carnival Luminosa, it was a mix of excitement and trepidation because while I’ve always wanted to try a cruise, I just wasn’t sure what to expect.
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To me, cruises are either packed with oldies who struggle to get around and therefore relish in the ease and accessibility of cruising, or families full of screaming kids who equally find solace in kids clubs, pools, and freedom to let them run amok.
However, once on board faced head on with buffets, shows and activities galore, I heard the sage words “just go with it” echoing in my ears – and I leant in.
Being cruise ship virgins meant the first few hours were trial and error until we found our rhythm.
We boarded in Brisbane, a new port for Australia, and before we’d even departed, my husband Darren and I went straight to the buffet, in our first rookie error of the trip.
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We quickly learned that food on cruise ships is much more than gorging yourself in the buffet, in fact it is quite the opposite.
Carnival Luminosa boasts a number of fine dining restaurants, including Fahrenheit 555 where we went for dinner on the first evening.
They had incredible dishes like smoked iced oysters and a chocolate dessert art where the chef actually comes and creates it tableside. It was fantastic!
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Our next foodie win came the following day when we stumbled across the Mexican station which was packed with fresh food, freshly made-to-order tacos and delicious burritos – it was officially the nail in our buffet coffin.
The main dining room, Vella, is where everyone can eat. Vella is included but is not a buffet but a beautifully set restaurant with white tablecloths and singing waiters. So much fun.
As for the activities on board, you really are spoilt for choice.
My advice is, try and do all the extracurricular activities – really immerse yourself into the cruise – just make sure you have some extra money in your budget so that you have the option of doing some of the more exciting added extras.
We did a pasta making class, I’ve never made fresh pasta before, and to my surprise it was incredibly enjoyable, not to mention how utterly delicious it was to eat what we’d made – I guess it’s the equivalent to eating your homework .
Once I had fully leant in, and my motto had become “just go with it”, I went full cruise mode. By day two I was drinking Toblerone cocktails from the ’90s saving one turtle at a time with straws made of edible candy – my eco-friendly and diabetes dream come true.
The entertainment is another huge aspect of cruising, so of course we went along to see what shows were on offer.
We saw cabaret performances which were a showcase of six talented people on stage, and we even went along to a comedy show. While sex, drugs and vaginas are my sense of humor, I am not sure about my fellow passengers quite feeling as comfortable with routine that was bawdy and belonged in the ’80s.
This virgin cruise snob ended up loving it. In fact, I want to do more.
Now don’t get me wrong, food, drinks and entertainment are fabulous, but there is also a lot to say for how relaxing cruising is.
Having downtime was so easy to do on board, enjoy some of the quiet spots around the ship to read your book or listen to your audio book. Darren and I disappeared a couple of times just to have a chat and drink in private.
I had a massage, which was lovely. Although, keeping true to most holidays whether it be on a cruise, in a hotel or anywhere touristy, they were excessively overpriced. Also, the moments following a massage are too often ruined by the upsell. Whilst you stand there in your post-massage trance, they are pushing products and extra treatments onto you in a very, “do you want fries with that?” sort of manner.
We also did a day trip in Cairns, and I’ve been to Cairns three times this year, so I figured I’d seen it all, but again – I leant into it.
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We were luckily enough to be picked up in a stretch Hummer thanks to the PR Team, and despite not being allowed to go through the drive-thru bottle shop for French champagne and having to drink XXXX Beer instead, I added a bit of lemonade to my XXXX, and made a Shandy like my Grandma used to drink.
We drove to the Crystal Cascades where you could swim in fresh water and thankfully it was too cold for crocodiles. I would say having that dip was absolutely a highlight of the week.
So, there you have it. This virgin cruise snob ended up loving it. In fact, I want to do more. The fact that you only have to unpack once is a huge selling point for me to start with.
Next time, Darren and I have hopes of cruising around the Caribbean or even somewhere off the coast of Norway through the fjords.
But as I’ve said, no matter what cruise you do – Lean in. Do the extras. And enjoy it!
The writer was a guest of Carnival Cruise Line.
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