School Holiday Cruise 2016 – Part One

Cruising is NOT good for the environment. I totally get that.  They’ve made massive strides in energy efficiency and environmental policy, and some cruise lines have excellent corporate responsibility packages that encompass saving turtles and whales, and being decent to their staff and the places they visit, but really… it is pretty shithouse to ferry a bunch of fatties around the globe for no better reason than their leisure.

I am saying this as one of the fatties they frequently ferry around, so cool it if you’re feeling offended by my candor, I just wanted to make it clear that I realize that by cruising I am a special flavor of hypocrite, as between vacations I champion good energy and environmental practices and policies. I applaud any and all change to more intelligent and sustainable practices, and the cruise industry is moving toward sustainability and corporate responsibility in various ways and on with various levels of success.

So, with that elephant in the room out of the way, I’ll get on with a meandering review of our trip so far.


We started in Sydney.

People-watching on cruise ships is a particular kind of fascinating. I’ve been cruising the 7 seas for nearly a decade now. My first experience was a Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) trip through the Mediterranean and Egypt for my 30th birthday.   We missed our kids, and aside from one couple with a small child from Texas, who we are no longer in touch with, we only hung around with staff and crew while on the ship. It confounded us that guests couldn’t hang out with crew and staff then, and continues to do so now. There’s always a way backstage if you give enough of a fuck though, of this I can assure you. I’ll keep my sources and knowledge of this fact to myself for now though. So yes, fraternizing still happens across the divide, and it is more frequent on some ships than others. Guess it depends on how “tight a ship” the captain and officers choose to run. (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.)

As was the case on our last cruise without my husband, I have the two Grandmother’s (and this time my dad, who the kids call Poppa as well) to help kid wrangle. That trip we had a super sweet suite on NCL. We did Hawaii and it was beautiful. I kept the baby while the grannies wrangled the three bigger kids. We saw volcanoes, turtles and felt very much at home as the Polynesian culture in Hawaii echoes so much of the Maori culture that is so sincerely dear to me.

Okay, so, back to people watching.

The boat is populated almost entirely by Kiwi and Aussie punters. You all know I adore Kiwis. Obviously.

I have to say though, I fucking LOVE Australians too. If you know me IRL, you’ll know that I take more than a bit of an exception to the racism and misogyny that can occur out in the open and behind closed doors on the big, red, desert, forest, and generally diverse continent across the Tasman sea from my doorstep.

Yet, Australians are so fun-loving. So earnest. So friendly. So loud. So absolutely endearing.  It was “formal night” last night, and it takes on a completely different meaning for Australians and Kiwis than it does for Europeans or Americans.  Everyone looked well turned out, but colourful and comfortable as well.

Here’s a couple of snaps from the elevator:

So yes, I adore Aussies, here is just one story of why: Standing in line to grab some food on the very first day, some woman was yelling at some kids to slow down as they rushed through in the buffet restaurant.

I asked if they were her kids.

“I don’t know who’s fucking kids they are, I’ll parent any kids I see though.” Said in a thick Queensland Wales accent.

And I beamed. A relaxed, maternal, sweary mum just like me. You don’t come across them as easily in the USA and Canada. I know they exist of course, but the thing about Canada and the USA is that the swearing ice doesn’t usually get broken until the second or third date, and almost certainly NEVER just standing in line to get some potato salad.

We talked for a minute or two, I found out she was a teacher, I told her I was really happy with the culture here as the staff don’t work for tips as we Kiwi and Australians don’t tip, and kids are free to be kids and roam the ship without being herded back to their parents. “Seems to me that North Americans give too many fucks in general, and they sure wouldn’t appreciate it if someone else yelled at their kid generally.” I said wide-eyed. “This suits me much more than the USA run cruises, and especially the Disney cruises.” I said.

So, back to a couple of stories about people watching:

Kids on this ship roam around in little gangs. The ages range, but I dare say they are left to their own devices to travel in packs from as young as about 8 or 9 (younger if there are a few pre-teen or young teenage kids to look out for the small ones as far as I have observed.) Kids are on an adventure on this boat. There’s hundreds of the little parasites, and they find friends and have ALL the fun. This is what childhood should be like! Not a constant stream of adult supervision and cotton wool wrapped scheduling!

What else is worth sharing with you? OH YES! There is a gorgeous little toddler who looks exactly like Phyllis Diller. It is equal measures cute and disconcerting. She’s very well behaved, and her parents look pretty chill. I wonder if they think she looks like Phyllis Diller, or if they know who Phyllis Diller is.


There’s a thousand other stories worth sharing, but I will leave it there for tonight.

Later, if I can stay awake, I will share a blog on our day in Lifou New Caledonia.

Here are a few more pictures, and I’ll see you back here sooner rather than later I hope.

Have a super week.

Thank you for reading!