Monday, June 11, 2018

79 days and counting

We've made our final payment for our August Aria cruise and now just waiting, waiting, waiting for 29 August and boarding day!

Our cabin still hasn't bee allocated which means I can't print any of our tickets out or select a boarding time (not that these seem to matter with P&O). We've got our fingers crossed that we may just get an upgrade yet!

I've put some OBC onto our account so hopefully we won't have to worry about credit card holds and seeing that it is only 5 nights we shouldn't spend too much money. Hopefully the wine hasn't gone up since we last cruised. Although our last cruise was on the Ovation which was US$ at least this time it's aussie dollars, no exchange rate to worry about!

On a side note, I was checking out Scoopon and came across a fabulous deal for a 10 day China trip. $888pp including airfares. It looks almost too good to not book - as much as we love cruising maybe a land holiday would be nice to throw into the mix (in between cruises!)?

Not much else for us to do now before our cruise except work and decide what to pack. I do still have to book our car in, probably at Portside Parking, but will do that a bit closer just in case things change and someone drops us off and picks us up. We're thinking about going to a show at Qpac after our cruise so may stay the night in Brisbane when we get back but this hasn't been decided yet. Check our finances first.

Only 79 more days to go.......

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Pacific Aria here we come!

Booking and deposit has been made for our next cruising adventure, this time on the Pacific Aria which we haven't been on yet! It's a 5 night Queensland coast cruise stopping at Townsville and Airlie Beach.

We've booked a Porthole cabin for this one, something new for us. The cabin hasn't been allocated yet so may just be lucky enough and get an upgrade (to a balcony would be lovely) although I don't think there will be much difference really between a standard oceanview with a rectangle window and a porthole room with a round window, maybe just the position on the ship. The porthole cabins are right at the very front - decks 4 and 5.

Seeing as we still have about 4 months before our cruise we can't prebook anything yet although I don't think P&O have many options available to book before you cruise. The drinks package and the Edge is about all, you do get to pick your check in time but not once have the ever followed it on previous cruises.

This cruise is from Brisbane so we don't have to worry about flights, trains or accommodation. It's just a short drive, about 1 1/2hrs to the port where we can leave our car. It's just mum and me again so mum will have to drive up to my place.

I'm really looking forward to this cruise, like all of the cruises I've booked, and having a small break from work. It'll be nice to get away for a few days and relax and recharge.

Cruise leaves on Wednesday 29 August and gets back Monday 3 September. It can't come soon enough. Might have to look for a 3 nighter to get me by! We do have another cruise booked but that's not until January next year on the Norwegian Jewel - another new ship for us!

So for now it's same old same old and saving some spending money for a cocktail or two - can't wait for a couple of danishes or two either!!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

You had us at $2 deposit!

NCL had a $2 deposit offer so what's a girl to do!? We'd been eyeing off another NZ cruise wanting to be able to do the South Island so when this offer appeared in our inbox we clicked on over to OzCruising and started looking.

We've booked a 12 night NZ cruise on the Norwegian Jewel leaving 18 January 2019 and getting back 30 January 2019. It departs from Sydney so we'll have to work out what we're going to do either fly or train and whether or not an over night stay is needed. Plenty of time to think about that.

The ship looks pretty amazing with so many restaurants and bars. This ship didn't have a good run last year when it was out here as it broke down and had to cancel a cruise or two, hopefully all of this has been sorted for her return to Oz!

We've booked a triple Balcony cabin as dad is coming along this time. I think I'll be relegated to a sofa bed, hope it's comfy! It's not the cheapest cruise we've done, actually it is the most expensive. The fares, well the first two fares, include the premium drinks package so hopefully that will mean we won't have a bill at the end of our cruise. We generally don't shop much on cruises so at least this way we will have already paid for our drinks and it includes all drinks except for top shelf so it'll be nice to be able to go to the cafe and have a tea without having to pay. It'll be a good way to try some cocktails that we probably wouldn't normally try! Seeing as it's just two of us with the drinks package we'll probably just share as we certainly can't justify getting another drink package, I think they're about $1700! That's a LOT of drink!

Seeing as our cruise isn't for another 9 months it gives us time to save up and to decide what, if anything, we want to do at each of the ports. We might bungy off the Auckland Bridge seeing as mum loved climbing it so much the last time we were there! I don't think mum would get off the ship if I booked that, ha ha.

Something to look forward to that's for certain, makes going into work every day a bit more worthwhile when you're looking forward to something. And after the 3 night cruise we just did I know how having a break from the every day makes a world of difference and is certainly something we all need to do and a cruise is one of the best ways we know of to recharge our batteries and relax.

So only about 270 days and we'll be sipping our first cocktail while sailing out of Sydney Harbour, the countdown begins!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Pacific Dawn - Tuesday 13 February, Debark day

And we're back in Brisbane! No sleeping in today as we have to be out of our cabin by 7.30am. We had planned on going to the Waterfront for breakfast but were too late so ended up at the Pantry, which I didn't mind at all.

Pastries and muesli with a view

Big brekky and a hot chocolate from Charlies
We both enjoyed the cruise and would certainly do another but 3 nights just isn't enough! 

I'm not sure if the standard of food, especially in the main restaurant, has fallen or if it's just a short cruise thing. I think this is the first time I've not been that impressed with the food, don't get me wrong I still had some yummy meals but just had a few not so yummy meals which has been a rarity on other cruises. Hopefully it was just a one off and the chefs were having a bad day (cruise) and the food will be back to it's usual delicious self the next time I'm cruising. I'll definitely have to have another cruise to check it out.

The entertainment was awesome and I really love the new makeover the Dawn received. It looks a lot fresher and modern and having the waterslides, is an added bonus especially when they are included in the fare and not an extra like the Edge activities are.

Waiting in the Promenade Bar for instructions on when we could leave the ship
 Our meeting place before getting off the ship was in the Promenade Bar, no sooner had we sat down than we were told we could leave. Down to deck 5 and just as I was about to get my cruise card scanned for the last time I hear miss 18 call me, she couldn't get off the ship until she'd finished her drink. Apparently you can't take it off the ship. I'm not really sure why seeing as we got it from the ship and we hadn't been anywhere except for Brisbane, maybe it's a rubbish thing? No matter, miss 18 finished her drink and then off we went.

Finding our bags was easy and the shuttle bus was there so we were back at the car by about 8.30am. Siri took us to a dead end on the way to the Gateway Bridge but once we turned around, and noticed another car doing the same thing, we found the right road and were on our way back to the everyday.

This cruise was a nice little getaway now where to next?

Monday, February 12, 2018

Pacific Dawn - Monday 12 February, 2nd sea day

Our last day of our cruise, I could definitely stay on for another week! I've been surprised how many families with kids are on this cruise being that it was promoted as a food and wine cruise, although aren't all cruises! It was a great atmosphere on this cruise, really relaxed, busy but not annoying busy, a good mix of ages I think.

This morning started slowly, what's the rush really, I headed up to the Lido for a cup of tea then went back to the Atrium to enjoy it. It was so hot up on the Lido already.

We thought we'd go to the Waterfront for brekky as miss 18 had spied that Eggs Benny was on the menu! It is lovely being waited on :-) I had a very nice omlete.

Eggs benny!
Logo trivia was on in the Atrium so we headed there and with an eagle eye miss 18 found us a table. We rocked it with our Logo knowledge but another team rocked it better, so close! After logo there was general trivia so we thought we'd stay for that. In between the two trivias they did have speed sudoku. I'm not a sudokua but thought I'd have a go, I didn't win and miss 18 also pointed out that I was doing it wrong. I'll know for next time! Trivia started off ok and then the table near us, who we'd swapped our logo sheet with, ask us if we wanted to join them as apparently they had a much better chance of winning than we did! Spoiler, they didn't come close to winning and for the record we killed them at logo trivia! It was a father and son and another couple, the father wrote down every question and answer and even has a special book he takes with him to all trivia's. He even said he studies them back at home, wow. I think he needs to study a bit more though.

After trivia we went back to our cabin and changed into our swimmers, the waterslides were calling us! 

Near the bottom of the Disco slide

Waiting for the slide
FUN! I went on the Disco slide which has music pumping, lights flashing and then the last bit is complete darkness, the water's slightly heated which is just how I like it. The other slide is clear.

We went to go up again so we could swap slides but one of the staff members stopped miss 18 as she was wearing a necklace. I told her we'd just been on it but she still said miss 18 had to remove it. I didn't feel comfortable leaving it with our bags while we were on the slides so we didn't bother. Later on miss 18 would go on the slides again, I just spectated this time.

Miss 18 had spied people with baskets of prawns so she went in search of them, they were at the Mexican station in the Pantry. Delicious.

The sun was HOT which must mean it's COCKTAIL time! This time we were determined to find a cocktail miss 18 would enjoy and this is exactly what we did! Frozen Margarita. I went with a frozen Rose, yum.

Enjoying a frozen margarita in the Dome

Got a new P&O cocktail glass
After our cocktails we headed to the Pantry for a bite to eat, Ramen Noodles! 

Seeing that this was our final night we had to get our suitcases packed and out between 5pm and 8pm so after lunch and another frozen cocktail we headed back to the cabin to pack, rest and then get ready for dinner. This time we had a table for just the two of us. The meal was a little disappointing again, we even asked to get another main meal for miss 18 as her first choice, crusted cod, was not very nice at all. The waiters were happy to replace it for us with no fuss at all. My meals weren't too bad, I had a fish cake type thing and a vegie lasagne, nice but a little lacking in flavour. We decided to splurg and order all the desserts (there were three on the menu) and the fruit platter. Again, a bit disappointing. They looked good just didn't have much taste to them sadly.

All the desserts!
No show for us tonight, it was a comedian which we had thought we might go to but in the end we both decided our beds were calling us. Our cruise is almost over, 3 nights is just not long enough.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Pacific Dawn - Sunday 11 February, 1st sea day

After a leisurely lie in we headed up to the Pantry for brekkie, of course. Pastries and muesli were on my radar, miss 18 headed for the hot selections. We found  table outside not too far from the drinks station. Breakfast was good, best meal so far.

Brekkie from the Pantry
Our daily Good Times said that here was going to be 'grand opening' of the Pandora store, I think they must have a grand opening on every cruise as I'm sure it's been on the Dawn for awhile now, anyway there was a free raffle so why wouldn't we go there. The Atrium was busy so we had to keep an eagle eye out for a seat, miss 18 was on the ball and snagged one after we'd got our raffle tickets. Well you wouldn't believe, we certainly didn't, we won the raffle!! Weehee - a ship charm, limited edition as you can only get them on the P&O cruise ships! Unfortunately miss 18 already had this charm as I had bought it for her a couple of years ago when I was on the Jewel for their 'grand opening' of Pandora. That's ok though as miss 18 has a few friends with Pandora bracelets so guess what they're getting for their birthday!

We dropped our prize back at the cabin, handy as it's just up from the Atrium, and then headed back for TRIVIA! We didn't win, so surprising.

Miss 18 getting our trivia sheet and pencil
This was a different sort of trivia as after each question you had to hand in your answer, unfortunately we were up a level so had to throw our answers over the edge, many didn't make it. We weren't the only ones who had to fling their answers over the edge, hard to win when every second answer ends up under the table, stuck on a ledge - not that it would have mattered really I think every second answer we had was wrong! Fun anyway.

Next up we thought we'd give Bingo a go, seeing as we'd won the raffle we thought for sure we'd win something at bingo. We were wrong, no prizes for us but one of the girls just in front did win a game which was around $200, not bad at all. Matthew the assistant cruise director was doing the Bingo calling, he's hilarious! Almost worth the $30 to play bingo ;-)

We decided to try the Waterfront restaurant for lunch today, the menu is a lot bigger than the dinner menu. Lots to choose from. I went with Mexican, yum. Can't remember what miss 18 had but she enjoyed it.

It was Gatsby/Cocktail night tonight so after a bit of relaxing on the Lido we headed back to our cabin to get all zshoozed up and then up to the Promenade for a cocktail. I opted for a glass of wine and miss 18 had a yummy chocolate based cocktail although she found it a bit rich for her. Better luck tomorrow with her cocktail choice, fingers crossed. So many people wore their Gatsby inspired outfits, many feathers and tassles!

Our dinner companions where really nice, two older couples who'd cruised before. It ended up being quite a nice evening although we did miss dessert as the service was a bit slow and we wanted to see the 9pm show. We were a few minutes late for the show but still found good seats.

Gorgeous miss 18
 The show tonight was the Velvet Rope, I'd seen it on a previous cruise and really enjoyed it so was happy to see it again and show miss 18. The two main singers have amazing voices and the dancers were really great - highly recommend seeing this show!

The Gatsby party was in the Atrium so we hung around there for a bit and then back to the cabin for us.

We had another roomie when we got back to our cabin:

Mr Penguin

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Pacific Dawn - Saturday 10 February, Embark day!

Today's the day! Our check in time states 1-1.30pm but I have never known P&O to follow the check in times so we'll see what happens when we get there.

We left at 10am NSW time (9am Qld time) and were at the terminal not long after 11am - found the parking station easy (Portside Parking) hopped on the waiting courtesy bus (even though the cruise terminal is only a few hundred metres away - there's quite a bit of roadworks so trying to get across the roads made it easy to bus it, plus it was HOT).

Dropped out bags off, heading inside the terminal an filled out our health cards then lined up to check in. No check in times were asked, maybe because we were early and boarding hadn't yet started it's easier for them to process everyone that's already arrived than make them wait until what their boarding time is. With a short wait we had our cruise cards in hand with no 3 as our boarding number. We probably waited about 15 minutes or so before being called to board and by about 12pm Qld time we were in our cabin freshening up and ready to hit the Pantry (what use to be the buffet).

Cabin 6189 - Outside
The Dawn has had a refit since we last cruised on her, mainly the public areas, the cabins looked pretty much the same. We were on deck 6 in cabin 6189 right near Turtle Cove, never heard any noise from the kids but it did make it easier to find our cabin.

Pantry - drinks station

Seating in the Pantry
I love the new modern fresh look of the Pantry, I do prefer this to the tradition buffet but miss 18 said she likes the old style buffet better, you don't have to talk to anyone, ha!

I opted for a small lunch of mexican chicken buritto but ended up with pretty much a bit of everything from the Mexican station. Miss 18 had some pasta and a few slices of the massive roast beef, it was huge!

First meal of our cruise!
After lunch we went exploring and checked out all the new things since the last time we were on the Dawn. Planning on hitting the waterslides sometime during our cruise and will definitely hang out in the stylish Dome - looks awesome.

We headed back to the room for a quick lie down before grabbing our life jackets and heading to the Marquee Theatre for the compulsory muster. Once this was completed we dropped our jackets off and headed back up to the Lido ready for sailaway. 

Sailaway - pretty much everyone's up here as we head off on our cruise to nowhere
One of the pools was transformed into a kids splash park
Spinning around on the Brisbane River
It was so hot so a cocktail was in order, the main bar on the Lido was busy busy so we headed into the Dome where it was much cooler and less crowded. 

Pretty - the pink one was very dry.
We dropped some raffle tickets off at the Spa down on deck 2 but before you could do that you had to do a tour of the Spa where they try and sell you their treatments. It was nice to see all the different areas, I think it must have had a refit because it look quite new and modern. The treatments are so expensive, I'm amazed how many people do them. PS: we didn't win the raffle prize so no free treatment for us. I was planning on getting rid of all my wrinkles and miss 18 was going to get acupuncture and a massage.

Back to the Pantry for a predinner dinner. We'd gone down to the Waterfront to make our dinner reservations, it's always a bit of a palava to book the restaurant on the P&O ships, and had hoped to get a 7pm sitting but all they had left by the time we got to the front of the line was 5.30pm (way too early) 7.45 and 8.15pm. We took the 7.45pm on a shared table, no table for 2's left although she was able to arrange one on our last night. We had the same time for the 3 evenings we were on board.

We hung out in the Promenade Bar before dinner and then went back to the cabin to freshen up and get ready for dinner. It was pretty quiet in the bar with only a handful of other passengers in there, everyone else must have either been eating or still partying on the Lido. It was Bianco/White night tonight and quite a few people, us included, had their white gear in. The other special night was Gatsby/Cocktail evening which would be tomorrow.

Our first meal in the Waterfront was ok, nothing to rave on about. Our table mates were a youngish married couple and two teenage girls. We all pretty much kept to ourselves. The married couple left early as I don't think the lady was feeling very well.

Meatballs and pasta - no sauce so was a bit dry
I had grilled fish which was quite nice. Forgot to take photos of our entrees and dessert but so far we weren't that impressed with the food which is a first for me. The dessert was meant to be a fudge brownie but ended up being a very dry chocolate cake. Hoping tomorrows meal is better.

After dinner we had a bit of a wander around before heading to our cabin, miss 18 was a wee bit tired after a big night the night before. I'm just old so didn't mind not staying up too late. I think we were in bed by 9.30pm (which technically was 10.30pm nsw time!)

Our cabin was a tad chilly so we used the skinny decorative throw as a blanket. We never did get our cabin to warm up even with the temperature set to the highest setting.