Our CARNIVAL holiday.
Hey beautiful people!
We are back!
We have missed you... I have missed writing and sharing our journey with you all, it was a necessary and much needed break from 'everyday' life.
I apologise in advance for the 5 million holiday photos that are going to flood my social networks!
As most of you that follow our journey know... we just hopped off the Carnival Spirit, this was our 4th cruise as a family of 4 and our second cruise onboard the Carnival Spirit. This cruise we travelled for 8 nights to the South Pacific and back. I wanted to do a little review of our time onboard this beautiful ship, as we have been on this ship twice now.
Firstly, we decided to travel with Carnival again due to their knowledge, understanding and respect for James' additional needs. For you that are just joining in with our family, James has Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Let's start with boarding the ship...
What a pleasant experience that was!
Just like last time, as soon as our limo pulls up and we give our luggage to the wonderful crew waiting at ground level to collect, we head over to the officer at the head of the line.
I let her know who we are, she then gave us to the most lovely offical, Wayne! Wayne then took us straight up to the priority check in ( we literally skipped hundreds of people and 3 clogged lines).
After check in we were taken straight through customs and Secruity ( all priority) and onto the ship, our offical (Wayne) stayed with us the whole time, helping us to fill out forms and entertaining James. Wayne then left us with customer service onboard the ship.
I was told to ask for a lady named Jennifer who was aware of our medical needs.
I had medication that required refrigeration immediately and for the duration of the trip, this was pre organised with Carnival and our travel agent prior to the sail date.
Unfortunately when I arrived at the service desk Jennifer was not available. I then felt like getting the woman behind the counter to understand the needs ( which were pre organised) was like trying to get blood from a stone!
So you are aware the refrigerators in the rooms are not set to temperatures required for medication. I needed a medical fridge. After unnecessary banter I was sent to the medical centre, where they knew of my requirements and all was sorted, quickly and with a smile.
(I will add in here that I had to be in the medical centre twice daily for Scarlett's meds, always friendly, prompt and never a hassle!)
Medicine was checked in, luggage onboard and James safely on the Spirit with limited anxiety thanks to the prompt transition to the ship from the amazing ground staff! Thanks Wayne!
Let the holiday BEGIN!!!
Now below I am going to give you my honest opinion on a few headings which I feel make up our holiday experience. I truly believe that a holiday is what you make it! Everyone that boards a ship will have totally different experiences. So much to do at any given time that everyone's journey is different. We have had the most amazing, memorable time onboard the Carnival Spirit. We will no doubt be back! Actually on the hunt for our Christmas Cruise!
There is nothing more I love on a cruise than getting dressed up every night and being served by the beautiful wait staff in the dining room. Theo and James don't come to the dining room as James finds it all two much but Scarlett, myself and our wonderful travel buddies yiayia and Pappou headed there every night!!
Let's face it... this doesn't happen very often at all, so make the most of being waited on hand and foot!!!
The last cruise we did in November onboard the Spirit we had the two most amazing waiters! They made sure our needs were met to a T. So this cruise the 4 of us diners had a high standard expectation ( set by our previous experience). What a let down... meh ( insert sad face). For the first few nights it was honestly like we were chasing the staff, for water, breads and to take our order. We were not once asked if we would like anything from the bar either. As we looked around other tables waitstaff were doing magic tricks, laughing with the guests and a strong interaction, presence and attention to their needs.
That all changed by the fourth night and we were attended to like the rest of the diners in the Empire Room. Maybe we had tired staff, new staff, who really knows but by the end of the cruise we wanted to put them in our pocket and take them home!!! I bet we weren't the only cruisers that felt that way!
We enjoyed our time in the dining room, like I said, it's what you make it!
Yiayia, Scarlett and I enjoyed a Mad Hatters Tea Party on the second last day. It was beautiful! The cakes were devine. We sipped tea and champagne, so glad we did this while on the cruise. We passed on the tea party last time but would definitely do it again.
The food on this ship I thought was really good!
I often headed to the Bluecantina for tortillas.... on the last sea day I discovered Fat Jimmys BBQ, OMG like why did I discover this on the LAST DAY. My mouth is watering as I write this part... pulled pork, ribs... and more delicious food!
Go on a cruise folks!
Why? You get your very own room attendant who makes your bed and cleans your room, daily ( sometimes twice a day), provides fresh towels and folds your toilet paper to a point.
We had Roy, Roy was outstanding!
Roy made sure our room was cleaned by the time we got back from breakfast! What a star! We never had to wait for rooms to be finished, it was like magic, we left the room for breakfast and came back to everything fresh and a cute towel animal for the kids enjoyment.
I think out of 6 cruises I have been on, Roy is the best attendant we have had!
On the last day Roy couldn't clean our room as Scar baby was sleeping ( she was asleep for like 4 hours), I called the house keeping in the afternoon to let them know not to worry about cleaning the room as we are leaving in the morning, just to collect the rubbish on their run ( due to nappies)... I came back to the room from dinner to find my room cleaned from top to bottom, my bed turned down and a cute towel animal. That's why Roy is a star! I told them not to but he went above and beyond!
I truly think the kids are going to miss seeing Roy everyday, James and Roy made friends, James' excitement when he saw Roy was really beautiful.
So James' favourite place on the ship this time was the Sports Bar, it was quiet away from crowds, had big screens with sports playing and had iPad games to play while you sat in comfy booths. If I was ever looking for James and Theo that's where I could find them.
James also spent a lot of his holiday ( and money) in the games room. Who knew shooting dinosaurs could be so much fun ( like $200 fun).... he had a blast so that's all that matters.
Scar baby and I headed to the shows.
Firstly, the best show we watched by far was the magic show called Miss Houdini. Scar and I loved it so much that we saw it twice.
There were many other shows to see onboard also which we attended like the Epic Rock show. These shows were Carnivals playlist performers, singers and dancers. These productions were well put together, well choreographed, costumed and lighting. I tried so hard not to watch it through critical eyes but couldn't put my profession behind me while I watched these shows. My honest opinion is these performers need some TLC, they made me tired watching them. I get it, I have been there, doing multiple shows a day and many in a week. The shows were still enjoyable but I think some technical training, working on their unison, musicality and line wouldn't go astray.
There were so many other things going on onboard the ship, we didn't get to much else other than the above. We did the main things the kiddies were interested in... after all your holiday is what you make it.
I do want to mention the cruise director here also.
Lee, I thought he was fantastic.
I liked his showmanship throughout the voyage. He was exactly what I would expect from a cruise director on a cruise ship. Humorous, interactive with a little tacky flare. Like I said before this is my 6th cruise. This is the first cruise director that I have felt fits the bill! The last cruise director in November wasn't too bad, I just don't think I really got his New Zealand humour.
Carnival seems to produce 'fun' cruise directors with some sparkle, other cruise liners tend to hit a more serious note... I like the sparkle and flare!
Obviously I had to have this heading. Yes, yes you know me too well.
It was a big part of my cruise.... way, way too many Moscow Mules ( my drink of choice). Alchemy bar was my haunt for the duration of the cruise! I don't like sugary drinks so the cocktails at the other bars were not an option for me. Alchemy bar has FABULOUS cocktails made by master mixologists! Mixologists like Daniel and Renata. Daniel is from Romania and Renata from Serbia. They are the most warm, interactive and fabulous personalities.Daniel and Renata would see me coming and automatically make up my Moscow Mule! I loved that! They always greeted me by name and I loved hearing Daniels stories of travelling the world. He told me he loves his job, he sees the world, he doesn't believe in a white picket fence and green grass. And Renata has been travelling for 9 contracts... like WOW! Alchemy bar is also a beautiful spot to sit and enjoy. Chesterfield lounges, mirrored walls, music and peace ( away from crazy children, except mine LOL they were generally right there with me). Daniel and Renata are some of the staff that made my cruise vacation memorable, they make a mean Mule, my veins ( and liver) are filled with the good stuff!
This cruise we went to James' favourite island!!!!
Isle of Pines... we have now been there 4 times. The water was warm, the sand is white and it is literally like paradise! It's the perfect beach for swimming. This cruise we got off the ship early ( thanks again to the staff of the Spirit who priority James on and off the ship to help with his anxiety) and spent most of the day on the sand. We ate fresh coconuts and even saw sea snakes!!!!
Next stop was Mystery Island, we weren't suppose to stop here but our scheduled stop off at Lifou was cancelled as Lifou sustained damage from the tropical cyclone. We were sad for the people of Lifou, it is a beautiful island and we were looking forward to travelling to the church at the top of the hill with our coconuts. Let's hope the damage is fixed promptly for the people!
Our final land destination was Noumea!
As we have been to Noumea a few times now we decided to do a land tour.
We took a two hour train ride around the streets. We loved it, James loves it, it gave us a chance to see some sites and James was happy on the train which made for a pleasant time.
Almost all of Noumea was shut as we arrived on a Sunday here.
There was one thing I desperately wanted to do while in Noumea as I have missed out every other time. That was get a real French coffee and croissant! My luck was in and I got my wish! I swear it was the best coffee I have ever had! Happy Mothers Day to me!
OVERALL we have had a brilliant time.
I have quite literally only given you a snippet of our fabulous holiday! We have experienced many things and have a pocket full of fabulous memories.
Many of you often ask why we cruise as our holiday of choice.
It's not easy travelling with a child with additional needs, a cruise holiday allows us to go off and do the things we want and be able to head back to the room if needed within minutes. You literally do NOTHING for yourself except shower and dress. We worry about nothing, no washing, no cooking, no cleaning. It's a chance to 100% recharge with no added extra stresses.
It works well for our family, in fact we are skipping out on Christmas this year and plan to be onboard a ship!!
We are now refreshed and revived ready to take it all on.
'Whatever it takes', 'whatever it takes'.... my motto is not just for James now days but for Scar and her condition! We will do it.... We will grind it out until the next cruise! Don't forget to keep following our journey over @jameshealthjourney
FB: James' health journey