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I woke up at 6 am and the boat was no longer rocking. Nothing was happening. It was so still and so quite, I looked out the window and saw we were docked in Sydney, next to the terminal. It was dark and stormy outside, I knew we were going to get very wet on our way home that morning. I opened the door, it was FREEZING! It had to be snowing in the mountains it was that cold. Both David and myself had turned our phones back on the night before, now in Sydney we had received a butt load of messages and missed calls as well as numerous notifications on Facebook. David was still sleeping beside me but I couldn’t go back to bed. I didn’t want to read the messages until David was up so I caught up with my emails.

Finally David woke up but I was dressed and ready for breakfast. I went up stairs and got him some coffee a cinnamon swirl and a croissant, which I brought back down to the room. I went back up stairs, got my last buffet breakfast of the holiday and took it back to the room. There we waited until our disembarkation letter was called. We were off the ship pretty early and it wasn’t until I was on land again that I started to feel a bit wired. I realised I still had my “sea legs” and needed to get my “land legs” back. I had a meeting at work which I was supposed to go to but I was feeling so ill I just wanted to go home and rest, and please make the rocking stop!

We caught the train and walked home in the rain. I was so relived when I walked through our front door. The house was spotless, just the way we left it. We were able to go straight to bed and collect ourselves. After having  a little rest I was starting to feel better, David suggested we go through the holiday snaps and upload them to Facebook.  I also uploaded the few entries I had written already for the blog on to this website.

We both had a really great time and were so happy that we decided to go. David asked me if I would do it again, I said I probably would but not for another two years. The overall experience was wonderful, I was glad we went with carnival as every single staff member we interacted with really loved being on the ship, loved their job and truly enjoyed interacting with guests. The environment very much reminded me of work, everyone is so passionate and willing to go above and beyond to make the guests day memorable. If you are questioning whether to go on a cruise stop now, book your holiday with carnival and look forward to one of the best holidays of your life!

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Cruise Day 9

The day started off overcast, Dave and I woke up late again, but this time early enough to catch the full buffet breakfast. We helped ourselves to fruit, bacon, eggs, sausages, pancakes, biscuits, cakes, orange juice and coffee. After breakfast we headed to a Q and A about ship life which I had to leave half way through as the boat rocking was getting to me. I headed up to the room and had a lie down and started to feel a bit better. I noticed the sun was coming out so I headed up to the serenity deck with my book after leaving a note for David. Again I managed to get a hammock, and David met me shortly after. We read for a few hours before David got cold and wanted to go back to the room.

I was starting to feel a bit hungry, but realised it was pretty much lunch time for everyone else as well. I didn’t feel like anything from the buffet and empire wasn’t open for lunch so I decided to wait until the crowds died down. I noticed that the make your own burger bar was open until 4 pm so I waited a little until the line died down and went upstairs to make myself a burger. I bought the burger and some chips back to the room for David. We had a quite lunch and after that I turned the TV on an watch a little of another movie.

That night we had a very early dinner, I think it was around 5:30! It turned out to be a great idea however as we were free the rest of the night to catch the entertainment, for example we were able to see the comedian and then went to the “love and marriage” show. It was a great night for laughs, but alas we couldn’t have a late one yet again. The ship was pulling in to Sydney harbour at about 3 am and our approximate disembarkation time was at 8:40 am. We had to go back to the room and pack up our bags.

Before dinner I had started to pack, it did start to make me feel sick though so I quickly stopped and handed over the packing duties to David. He was pretty good, his scrunch everything instead of folding technique worked quite well I must say. Luckily we hadn’t purchased much, just a bottle of scotch, a hat and a shirt for David which all fit pretty easily in our luggage. I was surprised at how little we managed to spend, our on board purchases came to about $1200, which made this Holiday pretty damn cheap for two people. I am very happy with this actually because now we have some money for Thailand next year and we don’t have to start from scratch.

Cruise Day 8

Given the previous night it’s no surprise that I woke up and was both keen for food but at the same time, not keen for food. We did sleep in quite a bit so by the time I managed to get myself together and head up stairs the buffet was closing. There was a section still serving  food, so we grabbed a little something for breakfast before heading out the the serenity deck. We managed to snag a hammock! The sun was shining and it was pleasant outside so we spent a good amount of time reading. before we knew it, it was lunch time and having settled my stomach I went over the section of the buffet which serves burgers and made two for myself and David.

After lunch we headed back to our room for some more relaxation and reading time. We weren’t really interested in any of the activities that we going on on board during the day as there is only so much trivia you can stand and only so much bingo you can play (actually we never played bingo).  We watched some TV in the room, every so often they were showing movies on one of the channels as well as BBC news and some american finance report show.

We managed to make it to the indoor spa later on that night, before heading back to our room to get ready for the second formal night. Instead of having dinner before seeing the show that night we went and saw the show first. It was a magic show with the dancers and a magician. There were all the old tricks, like sawing in half, twisting the head around, lost of disappear and reveals. There was a silk act and a hoop act, do you call that gymnastics or acrobatics? David notices a zip line attached to one pole and going down toward the stage but it was never used :(. It was a great show and I bet the kids would have loved it. I enjoyed it but it wasn’t anything mind blowing. I wasn’t left thinking “How the hell?” which is what all magic shows to attempt to do. Oh well.

We didn’t feel like dinning in empire that night so we headed up to the buffet where it was about to close again!! Not having much of an appetite this didn’t really matter. We helped ourselves to a little food and ate in the serenity area which was closing up for the night also. We wanted a quite night in so we went to the room and switched on a movie. We went to bed pretty late but it didn’t matter as we were able to sleep in the next morning.

Cruise Day 7

Mare

David and I woke up to discover that it was wet and rainy. What a shame though very typical of a holiday with me to have wet weather on a beach day. No matter, we headed up to the buffet for a long breakfast before collecting our things and heading over to the island. We knew before we left that we may be experiencing some wet weather while on our holiday so we had packed a small umbrella and a rain jacket. I had however, forgot to back the rain jacket with our towels and so we only had the small umbrella to keep us dry while sitting on the beach.

Yejele Beach is a lagoon type beach, where the big waves are held off by a line of rocks in the distance, allowing for still crystal clear, warm waters in the lagoon. There are lots of patches of coral which makes it the ideal place to snorkel. I had brought the snorkeling gear with me, but forgotten to take an anti histamine. I waded in a little and the water was quite pleasant, however I was not motivated enough to risk my face and peep at the coral formations.

Dave went in after me, again only up to his knees and only for a short amount of time. We both sat on a log under the umbrella just watching the others snorkel around and swim. We still had some Francs left so I decided I would get my hair braided. I was going to get a massage after, however David wanted to leave the beach and go back to the pier to look at some of the market stalls they had there. He promised that if I couldn’t get a massage there I would be able to get a deluxe one on the ship that night! What a sweetie!

Surprise surprise, only the typical drums, jewelry and pareos were sold back at the markets on the pier. There wasn’t much to do back there so we went back to the ship. We had a light lunch at the buffet, booked the deluxe massage and headed to our room, sitting on the balcony I decided to start recording the holidays events so I could  upload them as soon as I got back home, David read. Eventually the boat set sail, and we waved goodbye to our last piece of dry land in 3 days.  It was about this time where I started to feel a little ill. I decided to stop typing and have a little lie down on the bed. I took half of my braids out, experimenting with new hair styles and then had a nap before my massage.

I woke up still feeling a bit off, but it was time for my appointment so I went upstairs to the front of the ship where the massage parlor is. I had a lovely therapist, I can’t remember her name, but she was very lovely. She understood I was feeling a bit off and attempted to help me feel better. The massage went for about an hour and I feel asleep a few times while my feet were getting massaged. I would have liked to stay asleep but alas, the treatment was over.

I decided I should walk about outside and get some air, good idea as about 30 seconds after stepping outside…the inevitable happened and I spewed all over the deck. I was very apologetic to the steward to came by and helped me. She gave me some great advice to help settle my stomach. I went back to the room, had a soothing shower and hopped into bed. David looked after me very well. He went up to the buffet to get me some green apples and down to the bar to buy me some ginger ale. I think I have had ginger ale to much on occasions where I have been physically ill as it hindered my stomach soothing efforts, Luckily I remember they had yellow power aid on board and I asked David again to get me some. He is a very special man, and obliged. He made me feel so much better and I was able to get some sleep.

Cruise Day 6

Noumea

We pulled into port during the night as when I awoke I looked out the balcony window and saw shipping containers, smoke stacks and the nickle mill across the bay. When the ship pulls into port in Noumea it pulls into a commercial shipping yard, not a terminal or quay like in Sydney. They warn you on the ship that it isn’t going to be pretty, but I expected that from previous travels to Noumea. What I don’t understand is why they don’t go to Noumea first, get that city out of the way and the go on to the more prettier islands. If it were up to me I would go Noumea, Mare, Lifou and finish with the stunner of Isle of Pines.

We got up pretty early as we knew that Noumea was our only chance and cheap WiFi, had a quickish but big breakfast and then headed out as we didn’t need tender stickers that day. We caught a bus which took us 10 minutes down the road to the “Quay” where there were some small shops and cafes and lots of tours you could book. There looked like some fun buggy things and scooters you could hire for the day but we decided to take a hour and a half tour on a train thingy. There were two stops. The first was a abandoned youth centre whose roof was taken off during a cyclone a few years ago and whose exterior was now used for street art practice. I guess we went up there because of the view back down the hill and over Noumea. You could pretty much sea the whole city from there. After that stop we went for a long ride over to another look out where Americans had mounted cannons during WWII I think. Correct me if I’m wrong. The drive there was beautiful! We drove along the coast close to the water, you could see its purity and the beautiful colours. The sun was shining, the wind was pleasant and everyone was out for lunch. They smiled  and waved as out tour train/car thingy drove by and both Dave and myself started to wonder if it was worth seeking jobs here. This look out was beautiful, you could see the end of the coral reef, Amede island, Isle de Canard, the hotel district, the roof tops of houses, a sports oval, and beautiful blue sea all around. What a paradise! After this stop we were taken past the hotel district where I spent a lot of my childhood holidays at “Club Med Noumea” which is now “Le Meridien Noumea”, past a restaurant which had a glass floor so you could see the coral under neath! Past some french Rivera inspired apartments and back the the Quay.

Here we found the free WiFi we were waiting for for so long. Dave bought a coffee and we spent at least 30 mins trying to log on. Once on we only had maybe 10 mins to check our emails, our bank accounts and update our status on Facebook to let all our friends know the wonderful news of our engagement. Unfortunately we couldn’t stay on long to get their reactions as we had to head back to the ship for lunch before our afternoon stand up paddle excursion.

What a treat that was! Well worth all the money we payed for it! Just a small group of young adults (some very young and immature) out on stand up paddle boards for 2 hours or so. The water was a little rocky but not that much. We were right over a coral reef at a resort which used to have bungalows extending out into the water (The wood was too rotten to have occupants reside in them any more 😦 ). It was some of the most amazing coral I have see yet, didn’t see any fishes until the water calmed right down and it was like looking through turquoise tinted glass, I saw lots of black and white angle fish at that point in time. I had never felt so blissful and content in all my life. Earlier in the session both David and I managed to see a sea turtle! It was swimming just a head of us under the water.

We went back to the ship after the session ended convinced that we would buy boards for ourselves when we got home. It was about 2 hours before the ship was set to sail when we got back. We had our showers and head out to the balcony, We did some reading and before long David gave up and went back inside for a nap. I was out there still reading when the tug boat came out and helped us pull away from port. We were on our way to Mare, our final destination on this holiday. The clouds were coming in by that point and I was a little disappointed as I had tickets to Yejele Beach for the next day.

That night there was a storm, which didn’t seem to increase the rocking of the boat at all. I don’t think we really noticed it until someone mentioned it. We decided to call it an early night after an eye opening dinner at Empire (it was Mexican night, David and I usually don’t eat Mexican but what the hell, we were on holiday).

Cruise Day 5

Lifou

I was actually able to jump out of bed as opposed to my usual struggle. I guess dancing right before bed time will help you sleep? We were running right on schedule and there were no problems with the tendering process so everyone was able to get off the boat in a reasonable amount of time. We had some time to kill before we needed to meet with the tour guide so we spent it looking around at the market stalls set up at the pier.  There were lots of ladies offering really cheap massages or hair braiding. I decided I wouldn’t get mine done yet as a) I wasn’t sure what style to get and b) I didn’t know if I needed my precious francs for Noumea yet.

We met with our tour guide and group, hopped on a bus and was taken to the tropical forest. I hadn’t really thought this tour through, I have a major phobia of butterflies and somehow over looked the fact that a tropical Forrest was the ideal habitat for butterflies. As a result I did not bring a safety pareo with me to put over my head and shoulders. It was too late now though, the pareo was back on the ship and I was about to commence the tour. I took a deep breath in and plunged into the wilderness! There were actually zero butterflies in there and for that I am very grateful!

The tour guide Terri, was very helpful. He explained everything so well, I was amazed how many languages he knew (Kanak, French and English). He was extremely funny as well and made the tour very entertaining. We learnt about many different plants, some with amazing abilities such as preventing leukemia, curing a women’s womb,  band aids, you name the ailment, they had a plant that could cure it!

The secret grotto was great, the cave was very small…I have a feeling it’s huge but you would have to be a serious caver to explore it all. There were some beautiful shawls up the back of the cave. There were also some hand paintings and some totem poles as well. After that we were shown traps to catch various critters, for example a coconut crab, which is HUGE. It took 20 years to get that big, but some have been found to be 50 years old that they are enormous!

We saw a two wild pig traps and a bird trap. Which I was able to operate. After that we were given some refreshments and had a bit of a chat before the bus took us back to the pier. David and I decided not to bring our swimmers with us on this trip ashore, which was a shame as there were kayaks and canoes available for hire. We went for a walk and took a few photos, there was a massive cue to get back on the ship. I guessed it was because there was a severe lack of food available on the island. We gave up and decided to join the cue and eventually got back on the ship for lunch. I was starving and helped myself to a big buffet lunch.

After that I think I was too stuffed to move! We were both pretty exhausted from walking around all day and decided to head back to our room for a nap. It was the best things for us as we woke refreshed and ready to party the night away. We headed to Empire of dinner where we found it was Caribbean night! Everyone was wearing their best Hawaiian shirts and fake leis.

We had a wonderful night but once again needed to turn in early as we had an early start in Noumea the next day. Not because we booked a tour but because we wanted to hunt down some free WiFi and we weren’t sure how to go about it.

Cruise Day 4

Isle of Pines

It sucks waking up early, especially waking up early on holiday! But we had to if we wanted to make the most of our time on the island. We had buffet breakfast before grabbing our tender stickers. The sun was out but it was still a bit chilli in the air and the seas were apparently a little rough. Because of this they were having trouble with the tender boats and it took a while to get the tendering process started.

We had tender sticker no. 9, which meant we had a while to wait, however I did look around and see tender stickers up to 20! It took them about an hour to get to us. We didn’t get onto the island until about 11:30. We were lucky though. Later on I found out that stickers went as high as 36! They weren’t getting off the boat until 2pm when we were getting back on and only had 2 hours left ashore! That’s rough, but that’s what happens when it’s first in first served.

The island was beautiful! The water was so many different shades of turquoise and crystal clear! The sand on the beaches was white as snow and extremely soft and fine. The wind was still blowing, it was slightly warmer however. David and I jumped off the boat and headed straight to the beach. We found a perfect spot where we could place our things, grabbed our snorkels and got into the water.

This was the first time I had ever snorkelled. Where we were wasn’t very exciting. Just a bit of seaweed to look at, however it was a great place to practice and hone my skills. From here we moved down the beach toward the sacred rock. Or a least what I though was the sacred rock as I overheard people saying there was some pretty coral and tropical fishes swimming around.

There were indeed some pretty fishes, and coral formations. I did a bit of swimming around with David, trying not to bump into the 50 other snorkelers in the area, I almost got kicked in the face, almost. It was here on the first day of action that our action camera broke! It got a bit of sand in the seal and because of this water got in. So there is actually no video of any fishes or coral from the whole trip L It also meant that it was broken for paddle boarding in Noumea, which makes me really sad because I really wanted to film some of that!

We headed up the beach towards the hotel. On the way David mentioned that my face was getting red, I thought it might be sunburn though it was feeling quite itchy. As we progressed down the  beach david pointed out that I was getting hives on the side of my face. I asked him to take a picture and sure enough they were covering my left cheek! Luckyily I had brought some bottled water for the day so I splashed my face with that. After a short time the swelling and the redness subsided. I have no idea what caused it. It wasn’t the snorkel as that was on the right side of my face, I haven’t had a reaction quite like that to sea water before although I do have sensitive skin. I think it must have been some seaweed I brushed up against? I don’t think any fish got that close to my face.

We did some sunbathing on the beach while reading our e-books before we got hungry around 2pm. The restaurant there was a bit pricey, about $20 for a cheese burger and fries. We thought it would be best to go back to the ship as I couldn’t get into the water again not wanting to risk another reaction.

We had a light lunch in the buffet and then headed out to serenity deck where I foolishly decided to jump in the pool. It was still freezing! Everyone was hoping into the spa to try and warm up from the cold water of the beach I suppose. I was only in there for a short amount of time before I left the pool and headed back to the room for a hot shower.

To my disappointment there was no show on that evening, nor any comedy, only movies and trivia and that’s about it really. After dinner David and I were a bit lost so we decided to check out the piano bar. A lovely lady was singing in there, she is quite young and hales from Sydney herself. We listened to some songs and waited for the raffle to be drawn, which David one. Probably the only raffle we will win on this trip, still it was very fun. He got a pink clapper thingy. They sell them at Luna Park but in red yellow and blue. I must say I prefer the pink colour. After a few more songs we headed down to the ‘cool club’ which was playing some awesome tunes. I did a bit of crazy dancing before getting exhausted and heading up to bed. Another early night as our tour for Lifou was early morning.