A retired business owner, my passions are cooking, photography and eating. I use all three of these when I write for recipeyum.com.au which is on HubGarden
Published September 6th 2017
Cruising made easy for seniors - Cruise to a budget
So you're thinking about a cruise? As we get older and less agile, a cruise holiday seems to many people a lot easier and less stressful than another holiday where you have to lug bags and change hotels every few days.
Seniors have for some time been able to enjoy cruising from Australian ports and they have various destinations they can choose from throughout Australia. I have always departed from Sydney even though I do not live there, as I find that there is more choice of cruises from here. Here you can watch a video of a cruise ship leaving Sydney, and this in itself is an exciting event.
They also have the biggest variety of lengths of cruises, starting with a 3-day sampler, and going to about 35 days, and even more in a few cases.
The South Pacific cruises haves the most cruises of any area and is also the cheapest cruise. It is the easiest to get a cabin of your choice, as all the cruise liners do these areas. The following are the main cruise lines which have vessels operating to this part of the world:
P & O
Holland America Line
Arriving in Port in Noumea
These tours go to islands in the South Pacific and most call in at Noumea, which is the capital and largest city of French New Caledonia.
This is a large town and you can do tours from here, however, beware, as some of these are in buses that are not air conditioned, and it can be extremely hot! The boat cruises are an easy and interesting one for seniors and indeed all ages, as you just put on a snorkel and you can stay underwater for as long or as little as suits you. There are no problems getting back on the boat as the ladder is quite easy to get up and they help you if you have a problem.
An easy tour for any age
While you are in port at any of the cruises, you are able to come back to the ship for lunch as the great part of cruising is that all meals are included. There are several Islands that these cruises anchor at and some of them are:
Isle of Pines
Mystery Island (Vanuatu)
Dravuni Island (Fiji)
Most of these Islands are similar and have an "untapped", natural beauty.
You can amble at your leisure on these Islands
You are taken in tenders from the ship and this is also not difficult, and if you have special needs, these are always catered for on all ships.
One of the typical Islands
You can once again spend the whole day wandering about these islands, swimming in the pristine blue waters surrounding them, or you can go for a short walk and get back on the next tender - it all depends on your fitness level, and what your interests are.
I have currently booked a cruise going around the Bays in New Zealand on Ovation of the Seas. Most of the cruise lines now do this trip and the shortest is 10 days and they go up to about 14 days - this trip is Ideal for seniors as it is possibly one of the best sightseeing tours that can be seen entirely from the ship and passes some beautiful bays in the area.
They have a one day or so stop over in several of the places they stop and you can book a tour on the ship (or before you leave) to do one of these and there is an extra cost for this.
This has also become popular in the last few years, and there are all sorts of cruises and lengths that you can do.
Once again, this is an easy one for seniors as you call into ports on the way and they are leisurely cruises where you do not need to do much, however you can do a lot if you want to! Some go from Fremantle to Sydney, and many up the Queensland coast to the Whitsundays and thereabouts and these cruises are cheaper than the New Zealand ones.
They have also started doing cruises to Tasmania and this is possibly a rough one as it goes in the Bass Straight, which is renown for being rough. Nowadays the ships have such good stabilisers that you barely notice if there is a storm.
On my last cruise they had to close the pool as it had "waves" in it due to the roughness, however, the actual inside of the ship did not seem to rock excessively. There are, of course, doctors on board, should you become ill, and I would always advise you to take out a good travel insurance as this could save you many thousands of dollars should you be unlucky enough to have an accident.
Night time entertainment
The night time "show" each night is generally a world class one and they have a great variety of these. All the ships I have mentioned carry a troupe of entertainers who put on an exciting Broadway-style show each night on the stage. Or on selected Royal Caribbean Lines, you could get Cats and Mamma Mia or similar. You can also go to a musical duo or a piano man performing in a more intimate space in one of the bars or go to a quiz night in a bar.
Balkloons about to be released before a show
I do not drink, however, I always go to a few things happening in one of the many bars on board all these cruise liners, whether it be a person singing or playing some sort of game.
Watch this champagne fountain flow!
There is also karaoke if you are the type who likes to perform, and of course, if gambling is your thing, head on down to the casinos. Some of the boats now feature "movies under the stars" and this is also a novel and sedentary way to spend an evening! If you are still into dancing, there are of course, places for you to do this, however some of them are quite noisy.
The food - what can I say! It is like dining at a five-star restaurant every day! I love my food and this is probably one of the main reasons I go on cruises, as this is all included. Nowadays they have dining rooms that are themed (e.g. Japanese - Cinderella) where you can dine and pay an extra charge, however, I cannot see the need for this, as there are many options of where to dine on all of these liners.
The food is excellent, both in the restaurants and at the buffet, though the buffet can get very crowded and you may have to stand in a line. Here is a video to give you some idea of the buffet on the Ovation of the Seas.
The dining rooms are elegant, the service is generally exceptional, and the food is amazing - so much so that I have a problem deciding what to eat each time I enter.
One of the main dining rooms
At the buffet, which I find a real "trap", I just go on and on eating! This is because the desserts, which I cannot resist, look and taste so delectable, and it is for this reason that I get up every morning and walk around the top deck walking track!
You have the choice of where to go for each meal and there is also an afternoon tea if you can still eat. There are also casual snack places around the pool, ice cream, pizzas and the like, should you want to eat in between meals, which is something I cannot do, as I seem to "roll" in from one meal to the next!
There are naturally many different types of cabins on board a ship and it is possibly best to decide which type you want, and how much you will spend before deciding on which cabin.
There is also the cheaper option of a "guaranteed" cabin, which means that they guarantee you a cabin, however, you cannot pick it yourself, and it is chosen for you, in the particular class you pay for, on the days before the cruise. The following video gives you an idea of the rooms available, and this is on P & O ships, though you can get similar or better on most ships.
You are really limited by money on this as obviously a Royal Suite would be delightful to have if you can afford it, with personal concierge available all day, however, most people do not spend a lot of time in their cabins as there is so much to do on a cruise.
History of these lines P & O
Today P&O Cruises is one of Australia's largest cruise operators, sailing to more than 80 ports across Australia and New Zealand, throughout the Pacific Islands and to the far reaches of South East Asia. They cruise from Adelaide, Auckland, Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne, Sydney and Singapore. Their fleet includes:
PACIFIC DAWN carrying 1,950 passengers
PACIFIC JEWEL carrying 1,900 passengers
PACIFIC ARIA carrying 1500 passengers
PACIFIC EDEN carrying 1500 passengers
PACIFIC EXPLORER carrying 1998 passengers and the latest
P & O currently cruise to the following:
Short cruise samplers
P & O are no longer the "top" cruising company, and nowadays they rate less stars than most of the other cruise lines.
Looking back at the Pacific Sun from Lifou
However, and it is a big however, I have been on P & O four times out of Sydney and the food was perfect, facilities were adequate, though there were major problems with actual ship facilities on two of these trips!
Looking back at the Pacific Sun from Lifou
This is P & O's sister company, and have two ships currently operating out of the East Coast of Australia year round. They are the Sun Princess and Sea Princess who now offer cruises tailored to Australians sailing round Australia and to Tasmania, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands and also world cruises.
Unfortunately, this line has a bad history with Norovirus, and while this can be a problem on any ship, Princess seems to get by far the most problems with this.
This line has the fourth biggest ship in the world stationed in Australia - MS Ovation of the Seas. This is a fantastic ship, however has more facilities than a "senior" would use. I will be doing a trip on this with my grandchildren shortly and having shown them the following video. They now can't wait to get on board! This ship is great if you plan to take your grandchildren/family along, however it is one that I possibly would not choose if there were no young children with me.
Royal Caribbean currently have the following ships in Australia:
At this stage, this line only has one cruise ship operating out of Australia and this is the Celebrity Solstice. It is the lead ship of the Solstice class and carries 2852 passengers. It has an ocean-going live grass lawn, a glassblowing studio, and a 12 deck-high atrium, and is owned by Royal Caribbean, and operated by Celebrity Cruises.
This line operates the following ships in Australia:
CARNIVAL SPIRIT carrying 2124 passengers
CARNIVAL LEGEND carrying carrying 2124 passengers
Both these ships have all the modern amenities and include several on board dining rooms (at an extra charge) including Fat Jimmy's C-Side BBQ, Freshie's Corner, Nouveau, where you can dine in style, as well as a 24 hour Pizza and Ice-Cream parlour. There are many free dining options, as well as an adults only retreat.
Both these ships have water slides, which are something that seniors probably do not want, once again, depending on your level of fitness and health, however it is best to go out of school holidays if you do not like the extra noise of children - even though they all have "kids clubs" onboard and this keeps the children occupied during the day.
They also have the usual entertainment at night with Hollywood style shows, singers, dancers and many bars throughout the ship.
On some of the cruises, if you book just before the cruise, you can be lucky and get it even cheaper than the normal price. With cruises starting at less than $100 per day including food and entertainment, I personally, would not take this chance, however, I believe you can get great deals if going to the South Pacific.
Prices to suit your budget -Image: Pixabay.com
Otherwise, there are many travel agents who can beat the prices of online companies, and you can pick your cabin when you book. Beware, some online cruise companies do not include the mandatory "TIPPING" fee that most cruise companies now charge.
Cruising is one of the most economical, casual, stress-free ways to travel nowadays. The biggest problem is getting on to a ship if you do not book many months ahead.
There are some destinations where you have to go on a small shuttle boat. We have found that they discourage infirm passengers (especially wheelchair bound) from leaving the ship. Having said that, the crew are very very helpful. Also when you arrive at a port, it is not always the nicest area of the destinations, so taxis, buses etc. have to be taken. We travel outside school holidays, and still find that a lot of parents have taken their children out of school to take advantage of cheaper fares. I have requested that an adult only dining room be set aside for those who would prefer.