#IHeartCruising - A trip down memory lane from 2015
I always treat each cruise as though its a new experience, even if I have been on the ship before. It's like breathing in the fresh air after a thunderstorm, or the delicious aroma from a new jar of coffee. Even though you've had the experience before, there is always something new to enjoy each time it happens. And so it is for cruising for me.
My name is Laurel, and its been 10 days since my last cruise. At number 11 and counting (2 more already planned and deposit paid), its an addiction for me and my family. We have cruised with P&O, Carnival, Royal Carribbean and Celebrity. Recently I had the opportunity to travel from Singapore to Darwin on the newly refurbished Royal Carribbean Voyager of the Seas with my sister Lee, and these are my thoughts and top tips for considering the Voyager when you are planning your next holiday.
Starting a cruise from another country was a first for me as I've always travelled from Sydney. With this comes the opportunity to spend a few days in the departure port city to explore and shop!
I love Singapore. I've visited before and love how beautiful, clean and friendly Singapore is. There is so much to do, from the Singapore Zoo which offers breakfast with the animals through to night safari's, through to some of the best shopping malls and markets to grab a bargain. Don't underestimate the lure of shopping - we ended up shopping at the Mustafa Centre in Little India to buy a new suitcase! Then finished off the day with a delicious afternoon tea at the famous Raffles Hotel - just as a good as a Singapore Sling but with hot cup of colonial tea.
You cannot go to Singapore without a visit to Sentosa Island. This cool buzzing hub has beaches, light shows, shops, great places to eat and Universal Studios - the most fun place to go and be just like a big kid. We went on (nearly) every ride, bought heaps of souvenirs and at at Mel's diner - loved it all and had the best day. A great tip for visiting theme parks anywhere if you are in a group is to buy a team t-shirt - makes it heaps easier to find each other.
When I go somewhere new, the first thing I find is the Hop On Hop Off bus terminal. You can buy your bus tickets there (save some money and buy the 3 day pass if you have the time) and enjoy all the popular tourist sites like Chinatown, Little India, the Marina Bay complex and Merlion, plus they also offer deals on other products and services. We used our tickets to get a discount on a spa treatment - we had a fish pedicure! If you haven't done this before, live dangerously and dip your feet into tanks of hungry fish who will nibble away the dead skin leaving your feet feel lovely and soft. A bit gross to start with but you get used to it. Thanks to the guys @spadetour who were so nice and friendly!
My top tip for Singapore? Plan in advance. Do your research and work out before you arrive what you don't want to miss because there are so many great things to do here.
Boarding in another country
The cruise terminal in Singapore is fairly new, operating since 2012 and was designed to accommodate the largest cruise ships with its deep waters and nil height restrictions. Coincidentally the first ship to use the terminal was the Voyager, so it was fitting that the new refurbed ship left from here again.
For a newish terminal, it felt complicated. The lines getting through the x-ray machines moved along quickly, but from there it was a blend of insufficient signage and seating through to excessive waits for boarding, based on the use of a clumsy colour code system. Bonus? We met a nice couple of Wollongong, Kay and Leon, who we hung out with for most of the cruise! New #cruisefriends. Downside? It took a couple of hours to move through the maze which was a bit frustrating - you're rearing to go onboard and start your holiday.
Once on board, after handing over your passport for safe keeping and custom procedures (unusual but not negotiable), there were photographers available for a getting onboard photo, but they were placed right in the middle of the boarding area near the lifts, so they were besieged by crowds of people trying to find their rooms and food - persevere because its a great memory reminder so worth the effort.
My top tip for boarding? Go straight in and get your cruise card then find a seat. Bring a book and look for water which is usually on offer, and then stay calm and relaxed during the wait.
It's the most amazing feeling getting on board a ship. Enjoy every moment, and Bon Voyage!