Well we have no doubt seen the flashy commercials on TV and read the glossy brochures, but is cruising really that simple and that good? As a long time cruiser and travel advisor I know that when it comes to holidays nothing can really compare to the value and feel of a cruise.

It's not just the Ports along the way, great as they may be, but the whole experience of being on board your mobile luxury resort;  yes it really is a luxury resort holiday like no other.  Regardless of how many destinations you include in your holiday, on a cruise you unpack once and the rest of the time is yours to enjoy, and there is certainly plenty to enjoy on board your Cruise Liner, in fact so much to see and do that you are spoilt for choice.

Of course your accommodation is included, and like all resorts you have a choice of styles and costs, but all cabins are air-conditioned and have their own bathroom facilities. Great thing is you don't even have to make your bed and clean your cabin as it is serviced every day. Your meals are thrown in as well and again you can choose from formal dining or buffet, and meals don't stop with the basic breakfast, lunch, dinner, morning and afternoon tea. On board you can dine in one of the specialty restaurants on board for a minimal charge, way cheaper than going to a comparable restaurant ashore.  Then there is the Ice Cream Shop or the Take Away, and the free poolside BBQ's.

To cap it off  there is the entertainment on board, live shows, Entertainers, Cinema, Guest Speakers, Classes, Demonstrations, Quiz and Trivia Shows, Karaoke, Art Auctions, exciting laser shows, and so much more.  Your resort has many lounges, piano bars, clubs, and venues all waiting for you to sample and enjoy. But if it is 'pampering' you are after there are the beauty shops and spas all waiting to spoil you. Like all Luxury resorts there are the shops on board to explore, tax free jewelry, clothing, accessories, electronics, cameras, perfumes, the list too long to detail.

For the sports minded there are saunas, gymnasiums, and exercise/fitness classes.

To ensure you make the most of your time on board and don't miss an activity you are keen on a daily on board newspaper is delivered to your cabin every day detailing all the activities for the day, and giving information on your ports of call and details of the cruise to date along with the weather.  If you want to keep-up with news and sport there are TV sets scattered throughout the liner, and there is TV available in your cabin.  Keeping in touch with family back home is available through phone service and internet on board.

For those with children it is an ideal way to holiday, with a whole set of Staff, activities, and areas devoted to the young ones, leaving Mum and Dad to relax, unwind and enjoy the holiday.

A number of Theme Nights such as Pirate night, French night, or Island night etc:  and Formal Nights are scheduled during the cruise.  The theme nights are a lot of fun and really relaxing, these are advised in advance and after a port call so passengers can prepare.

So when does the holiday start?

As soon as you board you're Cruise Liner.  In Sydney it is normal for you to check in before lunch at the Terminal and hand over your luggage. The next time you see it will be when it is delivered to your cabin on board.  You would go on board around lunchtime and be given directions/shown to your cabin.  Then it's time to start exploring the resort or take in the Buffett lunch that is available, and can be eaten in the dining room or poolside where entertainment is already underway.

By mid afternoon your luggage will be at your cabin and so you have time to unpack and stow away your clothes, and get ready for the departure.

Sailing out of Sydney is an experience that will never be forgotten. As the time for departure draws near the 'Sail Away" party gets underway on the open upper deck area and as in the twilight the Liner pulls out from the terminal and your cruise is underway.  Leaving theterminalm and sailing under the Harbour Bridge and past the Opera House is another of those unforgettable experiences.

Then it is out through the 'heads' and into the open sea headed for your first port along the way. By now your  resort is a hive of activity with all the entertainment and dining areas in full swing. Eventually it is time to head for your cabin and get some sleep ready for your first full day at sea and all the activities available. On any cruise you have sea days when you are travelling between ports of call.  These are the days you relax and enjoy the many facilities and activities your floating resort has to offer.

Arrival into any port of call is normally in the early morning to give you as much time ashore as possible before the evening departure.  Shore tours are available in all ports and can be pre-booked before you start your cruise or booked on board at the Tours Office.  Prior to arriving in a port there will be a 'Port Lecture' provided by an experienced Destination Speaker on board to ensure you are informed about the port and what to expect, where to go, things to see,  while ashore. These destination talks provide a wealth of information regarding the port you are about to visit.

One big advantage with a cruise is that although you visit different overseas destination, all the entry formalities are taken care of, so there is no long queue through Customs and Immigration, although you do need a current Passport.

As your cruise draws to an end you pack the night before arrival and put the luggage outside to door, this will be taken during the night and be ready for you in the Terminal when you leave the Liner. Yes this is the one time you do go through Immigration and Customs so it is important to make certain you know what you can buy ashore in the ports and bring back into Australia. Advice is available on board during the cruise from Staff and from your Destination Speaker who will often include this information in the Destination Talk prior to arriving into the ports of call.

Arrival back into Sydney in the early morning is an absolute joy, as you sail up the Harbour with the rising sun lighting the Opera House sails in a soft pink glow, again it is under the Bridge with just meters to spare and arrival at the Terminal. The cruise is over, but as a veteran cruiser I doubt it will be your last, cruising is addictive, and there are so many of these value packed holidays to choose from that it will not long before you are booking your next.  Over the coming weeks I will be covering many of the Pacific Ports of Call along the way in some detail to help you choose where you will Cruise for your next holiday.



CLICK THE P&O LOGO FOR THE LATEST IN CRUISE DEALS