Friday morning saw us all meet at Wharf 6 , Circular Quay for the start of what would be a hilarious weekend sailing from Sydney to Brisbane.
We were treated to a Captain Cook Ferry service from Circular Quay to White Bay, a service specially designed for P&O cruise bound passengers. This is a fantastic way to get around to White Bay and giving you a scenic harbour cruise in the process.
After arriving at the Cruise Terminal and a very swift and prompt check in, we make our way on board Aria… but wait we have to take the mandatory Cruise Ship Photo! Lots of cheesy smiles, then we’re off.
So far so good, all the processes have been smooth, fast and efficient; a quick scan of our Cruise Card and we’re on board … looking for our cabins, then it’s up to The Pantry for lunch (along with the other 1500 passengers) and a little disorganised and very, very crowded… is this what cruising is like?
Rushed from eating to our ship inspection we are taken around by Zac from P&O in a very comical, enthusiastic and very professional manner. We get to see all the main dining options, the theatre, the reception area, the deck activities and the all-important bars… (We all make note of these) – But can anyone find their cabin again?
With the sounding of the alarms, it is time for the emergency drill at our muster stations. No one told me that this was a rushed event and but the time we made our way to the muster station our area was full. While we followed the drill and make a mental note of what lifeboat we needed to be on, it was off to the deck area to watch the ship sail out of Sydney Harbour … and how amazing was that! Very civilised with cocktails and a spectacular view of Sydney in all its winter glory – we sail away.
With more formalities of a hosted dinner with Zac, we start with pre dinner cocktails, a cocktail for the road and then off to Angelo’s for dinner with more wine, a delicious Italian meal and again more wine. Tonight is the Bianco party – all white is mandatory (so is dancing and a cocktail or two … or was that 12?) a very late night but lots of fun, lots of laughs and lots of dancing. The perfect party to start your cruise.
Breakfast in the Waterfront restaurant was a nice start to the day and got us all set for our training at sea , a very relaxed sales talk from Zac on the happenings at P&O and how we can maximise our selling skills with their ships, what’s new, and what’s hot – all at a million miles an hour.
Now we’re off on our own to live a Cruiseling’s day at sea … and that involved bingo, a walk around deck 6 with the smokers, a coffee – another walk (that meant a smoke) lunch, another drink in a bar … (what bar was that?) … off to a Martini Masterclass with real live martini tasting … that my idea of a relaxed afternoon and now it’s time for dinner (more eating). Tonight it was Dragon Lady – P&O’s signature Asian restaurant. This was FANTASTIC, and one of the best Asian meals I’ve ever had – with a combination of dishes we ordered the entire menu to share (and a few extra dishes) Incredibly tasty dishes, all finished with a wasabi Crème Brule and berry sorbet.
One more formality for the night with a Farewell drink from the staff from P&O in the Dome, the perfect time to thank our hosts for their hospitality and reminisce about our days at sea… (Days – didn’t we leave only yesterday afternoon?).
We have to take in one of the famous P&O show’s at sea… so we take front row seats and watch in awe. This night is still young, so it’s off to the Dome to watch Karoke (no please don’t go on X factor … you really can’t sing!), and then time to party the last night away before we have an early start.
As the morning arrives, we realise we’ve now docked at Portside Wharf in Brisbane and it‘s time to bid a sad farewell to our dear friend Aria…. But wait … do we have time for one last breakfast at the Waterfront Restaurant? Yes we do! So while the masses lug their oversized baggage to their departure points we sit at our table and enjoy our last P&O breakfast before we collect our carry-on baggage and take the last steps off the ship … a bit bleary eyed, swaying slightly as the ship has docked and make our way to Brisbane Airport for our Virgin flight back to reality (oops that was meant to be home!).
A very short hour flight gets is back home in true itravel style.
We laughed, we ate, we drank, we danced, we were educated, we tried to play bingo, we drank, we laughed (a lot), we ate again, we drank a bit more (well a lot more) …. But most of all we all had a fantastic time. So yes, I now think we all are CRUISELINGS!