- The Boat
- A typical day on board the Explorer
- New Years on board the Explorer
- The Islands – Noumea, Mystery Island and Isle of Pines
I recently returned from an 8-night escape to New Caledonia Islands on board the magnificent Royal Caribbean ‘Explorer of the Seas’ (the exact name of the cruise was the Royal Caribbean 8 Night South Pacific Cruise). The cruise went from 29th December to 6th January, left from Sydney and stopped at 3 Islands and then sailed back to Sydney.
I’d never been on a cruise before, and to be honest, I never really wanted to… I’m terrified of planes and boats! I’m a control freak and I don’t like the feeling of not being ‘in control’ if something was to go wrong. But thankfully my family, who have been on multiple cruises before, convinced me otherwise and we booked a cruise on board the Royal Caribbean! And let me tell you, I am so glad they did!
I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I’d been told to expect a huge boat, a lot of people, lots of fun/random activities, great entertainment, fantastic service & a hell of a lot of food! All correct!
As this was my first cruise, I have nothing else to compare it to but my gosh, it was a big boat! 64m above sea high, 9m below sea and 310m long! With a maximum capacity of 4000 guests and 1200 crew. There were at least 10 different bars on board, 3 speciality restaurants, a 3 level dining room, cafe and buffet. Plus, a full size theatre, ice skating rink, rock climbing wall, basketball court, mini golf, a shopping strip, casino, 3 pools, 3 spas, a gym and day spa! You are truely never short of things to do!
I was truely amazed at the sheer size of this ship. But, this isn’t even the largest in their fleet?! Mind blown. The feedback from my family who have cruised before was that this was huge steps above the P&O boats they had cruised on previously.
As for our rooms, we all had balcony staterooms. And all I can say is, thank goodness for that! Highly recommend paying the extra money for a balcony – the rooms aren’t huge and can get quite stuffy, so having the option to let some fresh air in when you are in the room was a god send. I think I would have felt very claustrophobic in an internal room with no balcony or windows. But, you are rarely in your room because there is so much to do 24/7 on board – I found we were only really in there to sleep, shower and get changed before dinner.
A typical day on board the Explorer
Each day varied slightly but a typical day for me went something like this… Wake up around 6-7am and either go to the gym (more on this later) or do a workout on the top deck and walk a couple miles on the walking track. Then we would all meet up and head to either the dining room or buffet for breakfast (both included dining options at no additional cost). On a shore day, we would then get off the boat to spend a few hours on the Island but on sea days we would fill the day with various activities hosted on board! Things like mini golf tournaments, volley ball games, ballroom dance classes, trivia, bingo, or watching the live entertainment at the various bars. Then it would be lunch time, which most of the time we would go to the buffet. The afternoon was spent much like the morning – doing activities – or spent laying by the pool. On multiple occasions I found myself asleep on the deck chairs in the adults solarium – definitely relaxed on this holiday! A couple of days I treated myself to a full body Swedish Massages at the Spa on board – which were an amazing way to relax at the end of a busy day. 6pm was our dining room sitting time, so if we were dressing up & going to the formal dining room we would be ready for dinner by then, or if we had a busy day and late lunch, we would opt for a late dinner at the buffet around 7-8pm when it was a lot quieter in there.
The night time is when all the fun happens on board! After dinner each night in the theatre they would have a live show that we attended every night – they had incredible dance shows 3 nights of the cruise, a Queen tribute show, a magician show, and a comedy impressionist. The quality of the entertainment was outstanding. I loved every single show and couldn’t speak more highly of them. After the show we would either head to a bar for a couple drinks, the casino to play some roulette or black jack, watch one of the movies on at the pool deck, watch the karaoke or participate in activities like trivia.
Then around 11pm it was time to head to bed and get ready to do it all again the next day!
New Year’s on board the Explorer
I was so excited to spend New Year’s on board a cruise ship this year!! I never really do anything major for new years so this year that was going to change! On board they had so much going on for the New Years celebrations. Every bar had live entertainment, music and dancing! There was basically parties at every corner of the ship. After the show that night we headed to the casino and played Black Jack til about 11pm and we all had a win! Woohoo! Then we went to the Royal Promenade where they had a ‘Time Square New Years Eve Party & The Balloon Drop’ planned for midnight to bring in the new year. We danced the night away and as the new year approached, we counted down the seconds with the hundreds of other people piled in the Promenade and celebrated as thousands of balloons dropped from the sky! Such an amazing New Years experience I’ll never forget.
The Islands – Noumea, Mystery Island and Isle of Pines
All the islands we stopped at were beautiful. Unfortunately, we docked at Noumea on New Year’s Day, which was a public holiday, so no shore excursions or tours were running. So we just took a bus to Lemon Bay beach and swam and snorkelled there for the afternoon.
Next port was Mystery Island. I was shocked at how small this island was! So small we could walk the distance of the island. But nonetheless, it was stunning, such clear aqua blue water! I’d never seen such beautiful clear water in Australia before. We organised a Shore Excursion to Kayak in Glass Bottom Kayaks and then snorkel. The glass bottom Kayaks were an amazing experience and the coral reefs and wild life we saw was stunning. Plus it was a great workout with the strong currents that were present that day! We snorkelled over some amazing reefs and I saw so many cute little and big fish! Such a cool experience.
Finally, we stopped at Isle of Pines – which was my favourite island of them all. The sand was so fine, soft and white, I’d never seen anything like it! And the water was crystal clear and a beautiful aqua blue. Perfect for snorkelling. We didn’t book any shore excursions here because there wasn’t much on offer, but we happily pleased ourselves, relaxed, snorkelled and explored the beautiful island on our own.
After a bit of snorkelling, we explored the island which had lots of local shops set up with handmade goods and local food. I bought myself my first fresh coconut! It wasn’t as sweet as the usual store bought coconut waters, but still good! And the flesh was delicious! The dog lover inside me was so happy on this island because there were so many cute local dogs roaming the island!
We spent the afternoon under a shady tree, relaxing on the beach (I think I fell asleep more than once!) and then after a beautiful afternoon, we caught the tender boat back to the cruise ship.
Thats it for part one of this travel blog! Part two is coming soon and will include:
- The Food (the part you’ve all be waiting for!)
- Workout on board a cruise ship
- Will I cruise again?
- What they don’t tell you about cruising (from a first time cruiser)
Be sure to join me over on Instagram (@eb.fiitness) for daily motivation, recipes and fitness tips! xxx