To celebrate our 30th anniversary we decided to take a 3 day cruise which fitted in with work and having somebody to keep an eye on our kids while we are away.
We had done a comedy cruise earlier in the year and had a great time so when the price and timing was right we booked.
From getting to the overseas passenger terminal to sitting in the buffet eating lunch was no more than 15 minutes, certainly the fastest I have ever gotten on board, I think they started boarding early so there was absolutely no backlog when we arrived.
The service was what we have come to expect from P&O, efficient and friendly but certainly different to what you might expect on a more upmarket line.
Its edible but not great, we had our first night at Angelo's, it wasn't special but considering the price (free) I am not complaining. The second night was at Dragon Lady where we had the share set menu, plenty of food, some of it was pretty good, the service was a little slow but we were in no rush so not a big deal.
We missed the comedians on the first night but those who saw them said it was good.
The second night we did make the later show, Tahir was good but Mick Meredith probably by his own admission didn't have his best show, I have never seen a comedian so put off by some of the audience members and it definitely affected the show, to be fair on the comedian, a lot of people up the back wouldn't stop talking and one heckler tried to take over the show with some kind of vendetta from years ago, the result was a show more in line with a school teacher swearing at the class to try to get them to shut up while rubbishing the suburbs many of them likely came from
The 3rd night we saw the Love Riot and had the pre dinner degustation, for $39 each we had a 5 course meal in a closed off area of the waterfront.
* Zucchini sorbet - I gave mine to my wife who said it was OK, i dont like it cooked let alone frozen
* Duck beast with pickle - nice but very small serve
*Heart shaped pate with jelly served with orange and thin sliced toasted bread, it looked amazing and those who ate it said it was good, mine looked just as good when we were done because I didn't eat it.
* Crab (and prawn I think) bisque - This one I did enjoy
* Slow cooked beef - this was a thick piece of well cooked and extremely tender beef that fell apart as you cut into it, a little fatty for my liking but i was very nice
* Desert - I dont recall the name they gave it so i will just have to describe it, orange spun toffee ball on top of a chocolate egg filled with a pink cream and the eggs was sitting o na piece of sponge cake, then they got hot caramel and poured it over the toffee and into the egg which caused the toffee and egg to melt, it looked amazing and tasted pretty good too but very sweet .
After this the Love Riot performers turned up and escorted us to the show and our seats at the front , they gave us a drink in a complimentary glass and posed so we could get some photos. The show it self is probably best described as an adults circus musical with some very entertaining acts by very skilled and well rehearsed performers. If you are at all offended by anything of a sexual nature this is not for you as there is some very adult only content, they do suggest there is nudity but besides bums I think that is more to account for wardrobe malfunctions which no doubt occur on a regular basis during the show.
Its worth noting, the Love Riot show is $15 without the dinner, $39 with it, my opinion, if you are going to do it, spend the extra $24
The cruise was listed as having a stop in Eden but I wasn't sure if this was going to happen because it was posted differently depending on where you read it, as it turns out we did in fact stop at Eden, the first cruise ship to do so docking at the new wharf, before going to Eden I really couldn't care less about the stop but after the day there I am glad we did spend the day there, Eden is a very scenic port and many people saw dolphins, whales and seals from the ship while in port. The locals were very happy and excited to have us there and put on a lot of stalls and entertainment ready for us.
The cruise overall
We splurged a little being our Anniversary and had a balcony cabin which for 2 of us cost about $1,000, an inside cabin would have been around $600 but when you consider this includes food, accommodation and most of the entertainment its good value for what you get.
The room is small but functional and clean with a fairly spacious balcony, the weather wasn't great so we didn't use the balcony often but certainly a nice area in better weather
The local community had put on a festival with stalls and entertainment, with picnic rugs and plenty of places to eat and buses to shuttle us back and forth to save the walk up the hill but we never made it that far, just as you get out of the wharf there is a small marina where you will find a whale watching charter boat, we got there about 9am and noticed a sign saying the tours run daily at 930 and we figured it would be a nice way to spend the day so I rang the mobile number and spoke to Lana. As it turns out there were still plenty of spaces available so we put out names on the list at $95 per person for a 3.5 hour tour, a short time later we were on, paid by card and set off on a whale watching adventure.
Some words of warning, it does get cold out there so take a good jacket and it does get rocky so if you are even the slightest bit likely to get sea sick I suggest you take some medication before you leave the cruise ship and an extra tablet with you just in case.
The cat was very spacious with room for about 70 people although it would seem awful crowded at full capacity, we had about half capacity and finding a good place was never an issue.
Our nature findings started with some dolphins who seemed to be enjoying the attention swimming alongside us and under the bow for a while but the whale sighting were few and only from a distance, we would see a bit of a blow and splash from way out but by the time we got near they were gone, just as I started to think the best we would see was whale tales from a distance we found ourselves as the spectacle for a couple of larger whales showing off, breaching and flapping their pecs from about 50 metres away at first before they wanted a closer look at us and started swimming around and under our boat for about half an hour. We ended up seeing a few other pods of whales including mother and calf and a group of at lest 3 larger whales with a few others by themselves.
Not the highlight at all after seeing the whales up close but the tour included some information about the local landmarks and history with some light refreshments also served as part of the price. Not that I indulged but they did have some beers and soft drinks available for purchase if you were so inclined.
I am sure you can pre book through "Cat Balou Cruises" (spelling may be wrong) but my only fear is that the cruise lines will eventually have this is a shore tour, double the price and restrict the opportunity for passengers to do it independently which is more reason to book the day before your cruise.
Its worth keeping in mind that if you will be there on a Sunday a lot of the local shops will be closed