I have been avoiding this post. I have procrastinated to an embarrassing extent. How hard can a few words about a cruise be? Firstly, I shied away from posting this final verdict because I found it hard to be true to myself and yet not overwhelmingly negative about the cruise experience. Once ashore, I almost wanted to relegate the whole experience to a dim, distant memory. Maybe with the passing of time, I would look back with a softer perspective.
Unfortunately that has not been the case. And so, here I am, doing the unavoidable: my final verdict on our cruising holiday. Just to refresh all our memories (it has been a while after all), about 4 weeks ago my then 6 year old daughter and I (she turned 7 a fortnight ago) happily embarked on the Carnival Spirit for a South Pacific tour. We left Sydney on 11 April and headed out to sea bound for Vanuatu and New Caledonia. What could be hard to take about that?
Now, I don’t mind reading carefully constructed and thoughtful critiques but I really cannot see the point in some of the hardcore “hate” reviews that float about. I don’t want to be part of that and I don’t want to offend anyone we met on the cruise, because we met some really lovely people and to all of you, thank you for making those 10 days so much more bearable, BUT honestly these so-called funship family cruises suck!
Basically our cruise experience was one of: bad weather, vomit bags, too much food served in the proportions of an inverse food pyramid, some of the unhealthiest looking people I have ever seen and the most expensive add-ons you can imagine.
Let me break this down a little.
Bad weather and vomit bags: I guess they go together and unfortunately our cruise was not like the calm, turquoise blue seas and endless summer days of the website. Several days at sea were pretty rough, we pitched and rolled with a swell that while far from being “A Perfect Storm” seemed to be perfectly vomit inducing for many. I really prefer going out to dinner without fellow guests vomiting at the next table. Luckily enough we were not sick ourselves and I must say that the Carnival staff were pretty saintly in the way they cleaned everything up so quickly.
FOOD: I have to use CAPS. There was just so much FOOD – it was crazy, 24 hour pizza and soft serve icecream meant you could never go hungry. As if? Who could go hungry? It seemed like the whole cruise revolved around mealtimes. I did not take any photos of some of my fellow cruisers’ meals but I should have, because some of the breakfast mountains I witnessed were truly amazing: towers of bacon, eggs, pancakes, waffles, hash browns, french toast and a garnish of more bacon, just to top it all off. The amount of food being eaten was ridiculous, it made me think of that Spurlock documentary “Super Size Me”. I know I sound obsessed, but it was not normal, let alone healthy.
$$$: everything that was not included was basically really expensive. For example, each day and evening there were photos taken by the ship’s photographers of happy cruisers heading off for a day of exploring the islands or at one of the many, pretty tacky theme nights. Given these probably cost around $1-2 to produce you would think that a reasonable sale price might be $10, or perhaps you could be encouraged to purchase multiple photos with a 10 pack saver or something similar. No way, most photos were $19.95 – $39.95, no package deals. I actually heard of someone who spent $1000 on commemorative photos! It wasn’t just the photos, the shops on board sold cheap trinkets at outrageous prices and the onshore excursions we were encouraged to purchase were at least 2-3 times more than what you would pay if you organised it on arrival at port. One of the onshore excursions we did was basically a bus ride with a local woman yelling at us for about an hour with an hour at a dirty beach that was supposedly a “natural wonder”. All of that for the bargain price of over $100 for my daughter and I. I think this is an Australianism, but what a ‘rip off’.
I want to and should end on a positive note and that has to be the happy feeling I had inside as the ship ploughed her way through the Heads into Sydney Harbour. Good trip or bad, there is nothing quite like coming home. My final verdict is one of thanks that the cruise is over and done. This is the try I have least enjoyed but like all other tries I have learned something: I am a confirmed travel snob. Oh dear. I hope you enjoy some of the photos at least.
Bad weather was hard to avoid
But not all days were gloomy
The ship’s interior was truly a fascinating mishmash of the awful and the dull