Fiji is known as a flop and drop destination. White sandy beaches, shading palm trees and clear blue waters enhanced more by a relaxed warm vibe. It really is paradise. But what if you could …Continue reading
The small ship cruising experience of Captain Cook Cruises on-board the Reef Endeavour was a first for me.I have cruised on the bigger ships before, but was not sure what to expect with a smaller ship. Intimacy. It only took one day and a few cocktails on the back deck and suddenly everyone on board were the best of friends. It was much easier to remember the other cruiser’s names that’s for sure.
Being an older ship, the Reef Endeavour surely holds her secrets. Her decks whisper tales of mysterious journeys cruising amongst hidden island gems of this Pacific paradise and I am excited to embark on my own island discovery.
My imagination was snapped back to reality with the announcement of the ever leering cyclone Lusi. Hot on our tails, we set off into the afternoon from Port Denarau to the nearby island of Nananu-i-Ra. First appearances of the island were promising. The rain had stopped and clouds cleared long enough to allow a tender boat visit to Nananu-i-Ra. With snorkel, mask and flippers in hand, I looked forward to a refreshing escape from the heat.
The pocket-sized paradise of Nananu-i-Ra Island is in Fiji’s Western Division. Just 3.5 square kilometres in size, the island is surrounded by scalloped bays, white-sand beaches and mangroves.
The island has no roads and no village. Most of the residents are of European descent, so there’s not much contact with traditional culture here.
After a quick game of beach volleyball with a couple of the ships’ crew, which my team won mind you, it was back to the Reef Endeavour for some afternoon tea.
The afternoon played out to a balance of activities organised through the ship and pure relaxation time. There may have been full capacity on the ship, but it felt like I was the only person laid on my deck chair and the rest of the world was miles away. Well my world back in Australia was exactly 1,751 miles away, so that was far enough. Better still, there was just enough distance between us and Cyclone Lusi, although we could see her closing in on us on the horizon. It will be interesting to see if we can continue to elude her. Cyclone Lusi 0 – Kate 2.
With the magnificent backdrop of Sydney Harbour on a summer day that couldn’t be more perfect, I found myself stepping onto the decks of Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas.
Initial reactions of awe enveloped my body. She is a big girl. A total 220 square meters to be exact. But she needs to be to house2100 passengers and over 850 crew to look after them.
The last cruise I took was on PO Pacific Sky, and well let’s just say, it was an eventful cruise after we became shipwrecked on an island off the Isle of Pines. So I was slightly hesitant as to what this cruise would deliver.
Eager to explore every nook of this massive ship, I raced down to my cabin to drop off my hand luggage. Opening the door to my Oceanview Stateroom I was pleasantly surprised. When did cruise cabins get so large? I could have thrown a party in there. The bed was a king split, but when together, was larger than my bed at home. A quick lie down on it and it passed the test with flying colours. So comfortable. I glanced out the circular window and yes that will be perfect to view the world pass by later on in the cruise.
There was a sitting area with a couch and coffee table, a TV that I was sure wouldn’t get used by me as there will be no time, and so much cupboard space with little nifty draws and hidey holes, I could never fill them all. What amazed me most about my cabin however was the bathroom. I expected a pokey little shower you had to squeeze into past the toilet. I was mistaken. It was spacious and convenient with cupboards and shelves to store all my toiletries away.
Just as I went to leave my cabin, and thinking it couldn’t get any better, I am greeted by Dyaz, my stateroom attendant. Such a friendly man, he asked if I was satisfied with my cabin, and explains where everything in the cabin was that I missed and how it worked.
Settled with my cabin, it was time to start exploring. I have to check my ship map regularly to get orientated. Starting back at the nine storey central atrium with lifts facing the sea, the floor to ceiling windows mean you can catch a glimpse of the outside scenery from anywhere. I feel over-excited with the entire sensory overload. Everything was so shiny, a band was playing upbeat tunes from the stage, other guest on-board chatting away also exploring while carrying exotic cocktails.
Cocktails! Yes, I would need a drink before continuing on my exploration. Speaking to one of the bar staff about what cocktail to choose, he refers me to the numerous Royal Caribbean Cruise drink packages. I decided to go for the Premium Package, just $45 daily and I can have unlimited beer, wine, soft drinks and cocktails. Considering there were 16 bars, clubs and lounge areas to serve drinks, I was sure the value of the drinks package would be succeeded.
I choose the cocktail of the day, a Blue Hawaiian, and sipped it as I continued on my ship discovery. There was a Main Theatre that showed complimentary Broadway-style entertainment, 600 square metre (6,459 square foot) Vegas-style Casino Royale with 188 slots and 11 tables, a poolside outdoor cinema, duty free shops, a rock-climbing wall, mini-golf course, basketball court, jogging track, video game arcade, 3 pools including the Solarium, 3 whirlpools, a Vitality Spa with an extensive treatment menu including massages and acupuncture and a State-of-the-art Fitness Centre, with classes including yoga and Tai chi. There was no way I would be saying I was bored.
All that and I had not even touched on the dining experiences. The Main Dining Room includes multi-course dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner on a booked or free dining basis. For quick snacks there is the Park Café and Boardwalk Doghouse for custom hot dogs. The windjammer Café, room service and the Izumi Asian-fusion cuisine, featuring à la carte sushi selections are all included in the cruise fare. I discover some speciality restaurants where you can dine at a small charge, including the Samba Grill Brazilian Steakhouse, Rita’s Cantina for Mexican-fare favourites and the popular Chef’s Table intimate dining experience. With all the dinning choices, I decided I had to stop using the lifts and start using the stairs throughout the entire cruise.
Having discovered what I felt was only scratching the surface of what this cruise ship offered, I found myself a deck chair and kicked up my feet, sipped my Blue Hawaiian and let the cool beats of the band take me away into cruising mode. This is the life, I thought, and daydreamed about maybe doing a world cruise where I never had to disembark.
- Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas currently cruises from Australia to destinations such as the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand
- While on-board, charges are all in USD and guests have the choice to pay credit card or cash to settle the account
- The power points are NOT Australian, so remember to take your power adapter
- Guests have the choice of many additional extras (like drinks packages) so try and pre-book these, although they can be booked on-board
- Royal Caribbean’s online check-in facility allows guests to add their cruise extras, book shore excursions, pre-book spa appointments and explore what the ship has to offer before getting on-board.
- Do the drinks package, it is worth it
- Spend the small extra charge to dine at one of the specialty restaurants
- Even on an Australian cruise, your phone company will charge as global roaming when out of range from shore
- Internet is available on-board but it’s expensive. You are on a cruise anyway, disconnect
- Upgrade to a balcony cabin, you would be surprised how cheap it is daily to do so