All at sea...


When we booked this cruise over twelve months ago, we considered the number of ‘sea days’ included and decided that this trip would be about the journey and not the destination ,as we had visited Hawaii several times previously. We knew it included a couple of ports in New Zealand and three ports in French Polynesia and we were happy to spend the rest of our journey ‘all at sea’.

As we now embarked upon our first four full days at sea, however, we began to wonder how we would occupy our time. We needn’t have worried.
Our Cruise Director, who just happens to be Australian, had put together a full program of events for passengers whilst on board. These included talks by experts including a Marine Biologist and a Polynesian expert. We saw presentations on volcanoes, sea birds and the history of the Aboriginal and Maori people, amongst other topics. We attended a live art auction of around 40 works of art; originals and lithographs by famous artists including Peter Max, Thomas Kinkade and even Picasso. And we listened to art experts as they talked about the history of art including the many and varied types of painting.

Thinking we would have plenty of time to waste, we brought with us the Scrabble and Chess boards as well as a double pack of playing cards with which to play Canasta. Although the Scrabble board has seen the light of day, twice, neither of the other two have as there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
The ship has a number of restaurants including the main dining room and it is here we share our table with two other Australian couples; Irene and Graham from Adelaide (fellow caravanners) and Meredith and Alex from Wollongong, who just happen to own a holiday house in Deloraine! The nightly menu comprises several courses from which one can choose from one to five, and it differs greatly from night to night. The specialty restaurants include the Tuscan Grille (Italian), Murano (French) and Silk Harvest (Asian) and we have tried them all, with great success.

Some of our culinary highlights so far are chateaubriand, escargot and frogs’ legs (Jim only), French onion soup (and many other delicious soups), chicken in all manner of forms, filet mignon, lobster, rack of lamb, crepes with various fillings, numerous tasty salads and lots of Asian, Indian and Thai food. Then there are the desserts… Unfortunately, food is available from 6am until 1am every day – its everywhere - its fresh and delicious, and its impossible to refuse!
After only a few days on board we realised we just had to commence a regular exercise regime. Deck 14 has a jogging track so for our first few sessions we walked multiple laps at a reasonable speed. Then the weather turned warmer and the high humidity made it difficult to maintain our goal, so we retreated to the air-conditioned comfort of the well-equipped gymnasium and used a treadmill to walk at least three kilometres each session at almost jogging pace. This, we told ourselves, justified the huge amounts of food and drinks we were consuming daily.

Still on food (and why not?) breakfast and lunch are served on Deck 14 in the Oceanview Café which is a fully self-serve buffet containing more varieties of food than you could consume in a lifetime and, as suggested, provides wonderful ocean views. There is also a selection of cafes and even a gelateria on board.
Prior to dinner each evening we head to the Ensemble Lounge Bar (one of 13 on the ship) to listen to live music. The Sea Harmony Trio is a classical group comprising two violinists and a cellist. They play a range of classical and popular music. Acoustic Image, another trio, comprises a guitarist, a female vocalist and a double bass player who present a program of popular and jazz music. I only wish they had a CD as I have fallen in love with their music. And Z Quartet comprises a pianist, guitarist, drummer and sometimes saxophonist. All in all, a wonderful choice of music whilst we enjoy a pre-dinner drink or two.

After dinner there is a nightly show which can be an all singing/all dancing Hollywood-type spectacular or a vocalist, ventriloquist, concert pianist, flautist, violinist, comedian, etc. etc. By the end of the show we are generally too exhausted to dance in the Quasar Lounge or party by the pool on Deck 12, preferring instead to go back to our stateroom and either watch a free movie on our huge flat-screen television, or just sleep. Its certainly difficult being all at sea...