In this part two:
- The Food
- Working out on board a cruise ship
- Will I cruise again?
- From a first time cruiser – what they don’t tell you about cruising…
The Food! (the part you’ve all been waiting for)
I had high hopes of the food on board the cruise ship and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. The sheer scale of the amount of food they prepare on board amazed me – get this, they prepare 22,000 meals a day (including for the crew), they prepare 63,000 desserts per week, and 14,000 steaks per week! Holy heck! That’s a lot of food!
There are multiple dining options on board the Explorer, 3 speciality restaurants which are an additional cost (I did not dine at these), multiple bars and the including dining options – the dining room, buffet, cafe and room service (all included in your ticket so no additional cost is paid on board). We mainly dined at the buffet and dining room.
This buffet was like Sizzler’s on steroids (if your Australian you’ll know what Sizzler’s is). Breakfast was always the standard breakfast buffet, toast, bagels, fruit, cereals, eggs, an omelette station, a muesli and oatmeal station and fresh juices. I’d always opt for gluten free toast, fried or poached eggs, and some sides like grilled tomato and mushrooms.
For lunch, each day had slightly different options while some remained the same. But there was always so many different cuisines, ranging from indian (curries, soups, naan), to Chinese, Italian (pizza, pasta), America (hamburger bar, hot dogs) and Mexican (tacos, nachos). Plus they always had a huge salad bar which was my go to. They even had special dietary sections, like a Vegetarian section and a gluten free section which I was very grateful for. Dinner was similar to lunch, however, each night had a different theme – the nights I attended were Mexican, Australian, Chinese and Indian.
The food was always so delicious and so authentic, which I guess is expected when they have such amazing chefs from all over the world specialising in their unique cuisines.
The centre of the buffet was always the ‘Sweet Treats’ station, which was always packed with freshly made cakes, tarts, jellies, cookies, cheesecakes and plenty of fresh fruits. I totally understand now how people go on a cruise and come back multiple kilos heavier with access to these sweets 24/7…
Unfortunately, due to my gluten and dairy intolerances I couldn’t eat any of it! So always opted to finish my meal with some fresh fruit.
Although, a couple nights at dinner they did have a crepes, donut and churros station where they made everything fresh in front of you. So on the last night I treated myself to a couple (or 5) churros smothered in caramel sauce because these were dairy free and I savoured every mouthful! So light and fluffy; best churros I’d every had!
The Dining Room
I could not get over the size of the dining room… 3 stories high! Our dining room seating was a 6pm and on the 5th (top) floor, so we had an incredible view of the room. The service from all staff on the ship was outstanding, but in here, it was on another level! We had two waiters looking after us, which were so friendly, kind and helpful. And due to the dietaries on our table, we also had the floor manager looking after us to alter meals to our needs. They always went above and beyond in the dining room (and the entire ship) to help.
We dined here 4 out of the 8 nights for dinner and each time, the food was exceptional. It was a lot more ‘fancy’ than what I’m use to, but so sophisticated, I loved it! You got to order an entree, main and dessert (you could even order multiple if you wanted! It was all included in the cost of your ticket on board). I honestly couldn’t speak more highly of the quality of the food.
The dining room also served breakfast, which we had in here a few times also. They had the option of a smaller buffet or a menu to order off. On a couple occasions I ordered an omelette off the menu. This was a great option because I could customise it to be dairy free and chose the vegetables I wanted added in. And I’d always finish the meal with a little bowl of fresh fruit!
It was a New Year’s cruise, so obviously a little alcohol was consumed here and there. I think I had a total of 4 drinks on board – 3 cocktails and a Moscato wine (my fave). I’m really not a big drinker and alcohol goes straight to my head, so one every couple of nights was plenty for me!
There were bars all over the boat; turn a corner and hey, theres another bar! Some might think you go on a cruise just to get drunk (which I think a lot of people did just quietly.. haha each to their own!). But there was so many cool bars on board to just relax at during the day or night. Our favourites were the Star Lounge Bar, which always had live entertainment, and the Pool Side Bar, where we would get our drinks before dinner, sit out on the deck chairs and enjoy the ocean view or watch one of the movies they were screening.
The favourite cocktail of the trip for us and everyone on board (seen as everyone always seemed to have one in hand!) was the Pina Colada. It was a slushy like drink; so refreshing and you couldn’t even taste the alcohol (slightly dangerous! haha).
Working out on board a cruise ship
I went on board knowing they had a fabulous gym with lots of weight machines, free weights, cardio machines and workout classes and with all intentions of making use of them.
That didn’t happen.
On the first day I went to the gym at 7am to find it absolutely PACKED! No free machines, no weights available and no cardio machines whatsoever! I was horrified, because a busy gym like that is actually my worst nightmare. All I managed that day was a 30 minute walk on a treadmill after waiting 20 minutes for one to become free. The next day I went back a little earlier and took my resistance bands with me, armed with a resistance band circuit I had written out and as there was again no free machines or equipment, I found a little spot in the corner and just used my resistance bands and body weight to workout. Another day I did an abs class and on another I did a pilates class – both were pretty average and the trainer was pretty clueless so I wouldn’t recommend their classes.
So the gym on board wasn’t the best experience for me. But I didn’t let it worry me, because I was on board for a relaxing holiday and I just embraced that. I didn’t stress over the extra food eaten and the lack of workouts, I just took it for what it was. Most days anyway I was doing an abundance of walking around the ship and climbing hundreds, if not thousands of stairs! That was enough cardio for a year for me! Plus, I would also meet Mum in the morning on the walking track on the top deck and do 1-2 miles of walking when it wasn’t too windy to be out there.
On the final day I did what I should have done from the start – a body weight and resistance band workout on the top deck followed by a 2 mile run around the track. It was perfect, sunny weather, and calm seas; so ideal conditions to be out on deck. And I felt so good after it. So note to self: next cruise don’t bother with the gym, just bring your booty bands and utilise the walking track deck where the view is out of this world.
Will I cruise again?
HELL to the YES I will cruise again!! This would have to be one of my favourite holidays I’ve ever done and I’m definitely planning another cruise on one of Royal Caribbean’s larger ships in the near future. Cruising is such an easy holiday, literally you check in your baggage, step onto the boat and you’re on holidays. No waiting around for a plane, long flights, baggage claim, taxi ranks; none of that jazz. Its easy and stress free.
There is also something for everyone on board. With so many on board activities running all day and night, there is always something to do. Or you also have the option to please yourself and do nothing! Fancy lying by the pool, reading a book or a little nap in the sun? You can do it.
Overall, its such a stress free holiday, no need to worry about where to eat, transport to and from restaurants or entertainment venues, planning an itinerary for the day etc. It’s all done for you, on board and accessible by simply walking! Plus, all your meal are made for you and your room is serviced twice a day. You literally can just sit back, relax and enjoy every second of your stress free holiday!
From a first time cruiser – what they don’t tell you about cruising…
1. The boat actually moves!?
Okay, sounds dumb but hear me out. I’d been told these huge cruise ships are so advanced and so large, you barely feel them move as your sailing along. Boy was I naive thinking I wasn’t going to feel any rocking of the boat at all… The boat does in fact move and let me tell you, you do feel it! On New Year’s Eve especially the boat was a’rockin’! As we partied and danced the night away in the Royal Promenade people were falling left, right and centre; stumbling into each other as the boat visibly moved from side to side due to the rough seas up near the islands. Nothing scary, I never felt in danger or like it was going to tip but it just would have been nice for a little ‘heads up’ you know?
But its actually all part of the experience, everyone would laugh as we stumbled into each other or would be walking along a hall way and all of a sudden crash into a wall.. It’s kind of like being drunk 24/7. But at night when in bed, I found the slight rocking of the boat very soothing to fall asleep to.
2. Your Glutes are gonna get a good workout.
DO NOT train glutes the day before going a on cruise, I repeat, DO NOT! I made this mistake and I paid for it for days! The Explorer was 14 floors high. Our rooms were on deck 8. Majority of activities were on deck 4, 5, 11, 12 and 13. Dining was on level 3, 5 or 11. I barely used an elevator the whole 8 days just because they take so long. So think about the amount of flights of stairs I was climbing… My Garmin watch tells me it was 60+ flights most days. Man those glutes were burning! So make sure you bring comfy shoes, and low heels ladies!
3. You’ll never walk so far in your life.
I expected some walking, but there is a hell of a lot of walking on a cruise! Didn’t help that our rooms were located on the complete opposite side of the boat to the dining room and buffet! Plus, get this, the boat is 310m long!
But the walking is not something that worried me, in fact it was much needed, especially after a trip to the buffet!
4. Be prepared for wind!
Not sure if it was me being naive… but I wasn’t expecting that much wind! Once you step outside, be prepared for a big wind smack in the face. I found myself constantly having to hold onto my hats or hold my dress down. Some days were definitely worse than others, but thats just something I did not expect.
Well thats it for my Royal Caribbean 8-Night South Pacific Cruise two-part blog! I hope you enjoyed the small insight to what would be one of my favourite holidays to date! Couldn’t recommend cruising and the Royal Caribbean cruise line more. I’m already planning my next cruise adventure on one of the Royal Caribbean even bigger ships!
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