No more cruising for our family!
So recently we took a 10-day cruise to New Caledonia in March outside of the school holidays. I have been asked by everyone when we got back how was our cruise?! It must have been awesome, mind-blowing, exciting! Look at your tans they say! I grin, shrug shoulders and say it is ok. OH! Not the response they were expecting!! And then I explain the following:
There was a cyclone affecting the weather and subsequently the ocean near Noumea, so the ship had to slow down and circle in the ocean for a day/night and dock in a day later than what was on the itinerary. That then meant we missed out on another Island, Lifou, which had t be cancelled to keep on schedule. It’s mother nature and there is not much we could do.
Of course, that then meant a lot of the amenities on the ship were closed off, like the basketball court and mini golf and waterslides. They were situated on top of the ship when you would have got blown off by the strong winds if you went up there. Well in fact, you couldn’t! it was roped off to be safe.
I had high expectations. Mistake no1. High expectations not met in any scenarios equals disappointments in some form or another right!?
I expected the boys to be in the kids’ club most of the time because there would be so much for them to do and they would love it. This of course also led to the expectation that I would have a lot time for myself and my husband, some work, some reading! All that wiped off as the boys lasted 50 minutes in the badly positioned room for kids right at the front of the boat, where every wave, bump and crash brought on sea sickness. They both threw up, felt crap and begged us not to send them back in there ever again. Clearly the fun was not so fun to have them return! Bye Bye any time for us or anything else I wanted to do without interruption.
No kids club and not much else to do turned it into quite a non-relaxing, “let’s always find something to entertain the kids with” type of stress! The library luckily had monopoly junior (identical to what we have at home) and connect 4! Yes, we played those plus naught and crosses and thumb war until the cows came home.
All the above made us feel claustrophobic and gave us cabin fever – literally!
You might ask, well what about the shows and other stuff happening on the cruise!? Most of the entertainment was geared towards adults. The whole 10 days, there were 2 movies that were aired for children. 1 which was PG and in no way my 4-year-old would watch. They had one Dr. Seuss story time show which was fantastic and right at the beginning of the cruise, giving me the false impression that this is the standard of what was to follow. Disappointingly, nothing did follow! There were no more similar shows for the young ones.
Quite honestly, I felt from the moment we stepped on the ship, that everything was geared towards upselling you. Photos, Art auctions, shopping specials, bingo.. the list goes on! They had a build a bear workshop at an extra cost, which we were happy to pay if it meant an activity different to what we did at home. It took us 45 minutes waiting in line and 20 minutes to build the bear and get out!
As I have coeliac disease and the last 6 months the boys have been on a gluten free diet, it was so difficult having our needs met on the cruise. We had to order breakfast, lunch and dinner the night before (too bad if the boys changed their mind) and the meals would still take up to 1 hour to come out on some days. A big deal was made about a gluten free meal on the first night we arrived, despite my agent having advised them about my dietary requirements. Surely, I am not the only one who has them!! The service overall was poor with only a few cruise members really delivering outstanding customer service.
It wasn’t all gloom and doom though. I am lucky to have been able to find the value in all of this.
Tonight, my coach presented me with an awesome outlook and practice he applies to any given non-ideal situation. It’s to “Always find the 3 gifts in any exchange”. That is:
What did I learn about myself?
What did I learn about that person (or situation)?
What did I learn about strategy?
And I have been applying this type of thinking to our cruise.
I definitely learnt about myself, that I am not a cruise type of person, to be cooped up on a boat with not much to do. I love my exploration type of holidays.
I learnt how to make the most out of the situation. I learnt how creative we can be with the kids in making up games to keep them occupied. And that when together as a family, that is the most important thing. So, it doesn’t matter where and what! We make it fun and we make it work.
Most of all, I found value in the closeness it bought for my 6-year-old and me. We had awesome conversations and a new-found bond. I do believe there is value in all that happens to us.
Would I recommend cruising to anyone now? Definitely not the way I blindly used to. I would give them the pros and cons. And, check in with your expectations and have a plan B if plan A goes out the window!