First of all I’d like to wish you all a huge Merry Christmas… a little late, I know, though better late than never.
Now, if you’d read my last post or follow any of my social media, than you would know exactly what my family and I were up to over the holiday season. Being from a rather large family, Christmas has always been a very big event for us, although this year was the cruisiest (pun intended) by far as thanks to the grand idea from my Aunt and Uncle we set off to take on the South Pacific, rather than one of the relo’s backyards.
As I said, I am from a big family with my mother being one of ten children and my father the eldest of seven, leaving me with a very modest 37 first cousins. It’s not to hard to imagine our usual Christmas celebration, just picture a standard Aussie backyard Christmas lunch, though times the amount of guests and food by 2 or 3. Our Christmas usually involves a lot of laughter, beer and wine… followed then by louder laughter… with a mix of salads, hot/cold meats and potato bake with plenty of family to share it all with, though this year with only 16 of us it was very much a change of pace… by about 40-50km/h to be precise.
Kicking off with a beautiful sunset over the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge we began our journey sailing on towards our South Pacific destinations of Noumea, Isle of Pines and … Wollongong (yeah, we will get to explaining that one). We cruised our way on through the build up to Christmas trading the last minute rush of shopping, preparing food and hosting family with two very easy days of laying around talking and consuming ridiculous amounts food, following each meal with a customary comment about using the gym facilities, I think there was an unspoken settlement where everyone on the ship would pretend to have true intent on using the gym but in all honesty we only made it to the gym once, despite being informed on the first day that on average each person would gain 1.5kgs per day… yeah okay, challenge accepted. Crusing with Royal Caribbean on the Voyager of the Seas, which I would describe more as an all in one resort rather than a ship there was no time for the gym anyway (another unspoken settlement where everyone would agree upon this ‘fact’). There were so many on-board activities from comedians and shows in the theatre to hanging out around on the pool deck, taking ‘titanic’ photos to rock climbing, flow rider (which was a kind of wave simulator) and even an ice-skating rink. To top it off I had my life-long partner in crime (and cousin) at my side, which meant that there was never a dull moment… to say the least.
As much fun as we were having on the ship we did manage to pry ourselves away from it at the ports of our two island stops. First cab off the rank was the very scenic Noumea where we did the classic ‘family day’ thing walking/busing around town while dad complained about the heat and exercise. We stopped off at the town markets and then at Lemon Bay and Anse Vata Beach for a swim and a sun bake… by sunbake I mean laying in the shade with 3 layers of suncream and a towel over me to cover up extremely English skin, though all in all it was a very pleasant day and as it came to a close we were back to the boat and off to Isle of Pines for an extremely peaceful and picturesque Christmas Eve. We spent the morning snorkling around the lovely La Rocher (also known as Sacred Rock) checking out the sea life and flora, then took to the sand for a selfie session with my cousins. I finished the day off getting to know two brothers I’d met earlier on in the cruise who had a knack for story telling and adventure, before linking back up with my cousin and off to do our readings at the midnight Christmas Mass held in the ship theatre with a very charismatic Father.
After a relatively early night we were off at sea again and on our way back to Aus for our last stop of Wollongong, which I said I would explain. So Wollongong wasn’t actually on our original trip agenda, we were actually scheduled to spend Christmas day…. Oh wait, we are up to Christmas day now?! Being on the cruise I seriously almost forgot the whole point of the cruise being christmas, it was so out the usual holiday routine that we were all a little blase that Christmas day had come around, If it wasn’t for Mass and our family present swap there was nothing really to set Christmas day aside from the rest. As night came around my cousin and I relocated dinner tables as our families table was overflowing, so we spent Christmas dinner at my newly found ‘cruise fiancés’ table. After which we ditched the boys and were off to the pub for some live music and a few drinks …which fairly rapidly turned into a few to many shots with some of the cruise crew and then into dancing on the pub benches in preparation of heading up to the night club dance floor for the remainder of the night. The night was (almost) drama-free and not all that eventful, although we obviously made a few good connections throughout as come the next day we received a complimentary bottle of champagne and two hats to our room with a note from the cruise director reading ‘To the 2 coolest girls on the cruise’… we were pretty chuffed.
After claiming our (very appropriate) titles of coolest girls we were on for a few more ‘sea days’. By this time we had made plenty of friends amongst the other cruise goers and crew so our days were full of all sorts of fun times with new people and different activities. One of the highlights though was on the second last night, where I volunteered as team leader in the ‘Family Quest Game Show’ alongside the sexiest man in the world (a title claimed during an on board competition, that I very unfortunately missed the judging of). To give you an idea of what I’m talking about the game show was like a family game night on steroids, so just imagine your in a theatre and there is a stage/platform in the centre where all the action happens, around the edges of which is split into 6 different seated sections of about 50-60 people and these make up your teams, each team has two representative who lead (in a sense) the group participation in the activities, each activity is an action or task to completed by the group in a short amount of time and then the team to react the fastest wins the round. So for example at one point we were commanded to present with 3 waist belts, so we collected up the belts from our team and brought them down to the floor with our team number, in another commands team members represented the team to show off their tattoos, piercings, dance move, ect….. So hopefully that makes sense, but either way it was just a whole lot of fun. Now here comes the best part, as during the show for a reason that can only really be described as a Christmas miracle, both my cousin and I were given to the opportunity to show our signature party moves back to back, firstly with me going down into the splits on behalf of the team, followed by my champion of a cousin straight on the scene to show off ‘the worm’. It was an amazing night, and with the sexiest man and one of the coolest girls on the cruise as team leaders, we couldn’t lose, right?!…. Well, turns out we couldn’t win either because we came away with a bronze medal, my only regret was not get a team selfie at the end of it… I guess I will have to rely on my brain for the memories of this occasion.
Things started to wind down to finish our amazing… no wait sorry, AMAZING… family holiday as we headed back to Sydney but not without bypassing our last stop off at Wollongong… so to finally explain, we were actually meant to be headed to Mystery Island although due to unfortunate natural disasters the Islands ports weren’t quite ready to be bombarded by the cruise ship so this destination was replaced with Wollongong… and don’t get me wrong, I love the Gong although we were pretty happy just to spend our last day afloat saying our goodbyes to all the people we had met on board. We ended the cruise with an attempted all nighter which developed into a 5person1bed slumber party, where we rose with the sun and our new cruise family to watch the entry back in Sydney Habour from the balcony, it was a very worth while way to top off a pretty memorable 9 days.
To finish, I would love to again wish you a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Keep posted for the pics of my trip where you will meet my family and some new friends.
Next adventure: Well ahh I have no clue… but if you’re interested in keeping up with things find that ‘You’re amazing’ button at the bottom and/or side of the page and subscribe for email updates. Lastly, I would like to take this opportunity to give a shout out to my mum for being my first subscriber woo!
Annie Charlotte xx