Married life gets off to a cruisy start for David Haxton.
NOTES FROM A FIRST-TIME CRUISER
I wake in the early hours of the morning to find myself falling down then rising upwards.
The roller coaster sensation is one of the movements on-board a cruise ship when sea conditions are a bit choppy.
My wife Tina and I were on a honeymoon cruise on the P&O Cruises ship Pacific Eden — a four-day return trip from Sydney with a day trip to Mooloolaba.
As first-time cruisers, we found it was in our room where we really felt the boat's movements, a bit like mini earthquakes, especially when trying to get to sleep.
There were various nautical creaking sounds to be heard at night, and one case of repetitive tapping had me out of bed at 1.45am scouring the cabin but the sound proved elusive.
Some people stuck small bits of paper into the walls to stop whatever noise was bugging them.
But you soon get used to the ship's movements as it cuts through the waves of the Tasman Sea.
Boarding at the White Bay Cruise Terminal, in Sydney, was a breeze, the co-ordination of many passengers carried out with military precision by staff.
We left Sydney Harbour on a beautiful evening — sailing under the iconic bridge proving a popular highlight.
Our room was spacious, with a balcony, and very clean and tidy, though a little tired in parts. It had a leather couch, television, heaps of cupboard space, a huge bed and an ensuite with shower bath.
The friendly room steward said each cruise, with a 1260-guest capacity, was full. This cruise was no different, attracting people across all age brackets, from retirees to young families.
But despite the numbers, the ship was so vast we didn't feel crowded.
Dining was a food lover's dream with a smorgasbord of restaurants on offer.
At dinner we could choose between restaurants The Dragon Lady, Angelo's and the Waterfront, and we had breakfast and lunch at The Pantry, which comprised a variety of mouth-watering food stations.
Quick tip — when you board the ship, reserve a restaurant table for each night.
The food, which was included in the cruise cost, was delicious and I easily put on more than 3kg. The bars were doing a roaring trade, with some people's alcohol intake eye-opening, many already imbibing by mid-morning.
Our day trip to Mooloolaba was canned by the captain who was concerned that deteriorating weather would make it too difficult for tenders to get passengers safely back on board; it was a good opportunity to slap on the sunscreen, find a sun lounger, and chill out on deck with a book.
There were plenty of activities with a schedule posted each night to our cabin — we enjoyed a nightly musical show, bingo and wine tasting, and treated ourselves to a spa treatment.
I also took part in three table-tennis tournaments, but two next-level players scuppered my medal-winning ambitions.
The cruise staff, whether room stewards, restaurant or bar waiters, activity
co-ordinators, musical performers, or receptionists, were cheerful, accommodating and clearly put in long hours each day.
We didn't go on the cruise with our expectations too high, so we were very happy with it, had lots of fun, and certainly weren't disappointed.
As we disembarked at Circular Quay our wedding song Perfect, by Ed Sheeran, was playing through the terminal's sound system — a fitting touch to a fabulous four days.
For information on sailings of P&O's Pacific Eden,
go to pocruises.co.nz.