FOOD


Once upon a time, ship dining meant you would have been faced with a line around the corner for a bog-standard buffet. But today’s onboard food offerings are a far cry from what you would have found on P&O’s Fairstar.

One fine example is the partnership with celebrity chefs who have their own bespoke restaurants onboard ships. In local waters, Australian celebrity chef Curtis Stone has teamed up with Princess Cruises to create SHARE, a share-style venue featuring the best Australian produce; elsewhere, Luke Mangan has a long-standing relationship with P&O Cruises Australia and has Salt grill onboard the entire Aussie fleet. On international fleets, famous Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa, renowned for his delicate flavours, has speciality restaurants aboard Crystal Cruises ships, while on Dream Cruise’s Genting Dream, Sydney chef Mark Best combines Western and Asian flavours at Bistro.


If, having sampled delicious meals on your cruise, you want to learn how to cook some of those delicious recipes, many lines, including Windstar, Oceania Cruises and APT, offer dedicated food cruises. In Ho Chi Minh City on an APT Mekong cruise, Vietnamese-Australian chef Luke Nguyen will take you ashore to the produce markets he so fondly remembers and include a visit to his aunt who still works in the market.


These days, there are are just as many watering holes aboard cruise ships as there are restaurants. On certain Norwegian Cruise Line ships, you can drink at the Svedka Ice Bar, where the specialties include the famous Inniskillin ice wine and Svedka citrus vodka and where you can sit on an icy throne and drink from ice glasses. For a bit more fun, Royal Caribbean’s Quantum- and Oasis-class ships offer the Bionic Bar, where cocktails are shaken and stirred by robotic arms. Just key in your order and the robotic bartender will make your drink.

ACTIVITIES


The days of skeet-shooting off the back of Fairstar are gone. There are now activities that cater to everyone of all ages. Whether you like thrill seeking activities like zip lining across your ship or spending the day getting pampered in the spa, modern day cruise ships have it all.


The lines are continuously innovating new ways to keep guests entertained onboard and many ships have become destinations in themselves. On Norwegian Encore and Bliss, there’s a two-storey go-kart racetrack where guests can race against one another, while the P&O fleet has P&O Edge, an adventure park where guests can try their hand at ziplining, Segway rides, trampolining and more. On Royal Caribbean ships, guests can catch a wave on the surf simulator, slide down one of the steepest slides in the world (The Ultimate Abyss, shaped like a terrifying angler fish), or get blown away by the iFly sky-diving simulator.


On the flip side, for a bit of rest and relaxation, most cruise lines offer excellent pampering services. Celebrity Cruises has one of the largest spas at sea; on Celebrity Solstice, which regularly sails in Australian waters, guests can rest in the Persian Garden thermal suite, which has hot and cold rooms, spa services and a Turkish bath.


Seabourn has four penthouse spa suites aboard Seabourn Odyssey for guests wanting a spa vacation at sea. The 50-square-metre luxury suites each have an expansive private verandah and a spiral staircase leading to the spa lobby. Guests staying in these suites have unlimited access to the spa’s relaxation areas and amenities, and the services of the spa concierge.


There are plenty of things to do to beat the bulge onboard your ship. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Fight Klub, available on Breakaway-class ships, is a group boxing class using punching bags, while Royal Caribbean’s Freedom- and Oasis-class ships offer boxing lessons with an experienced coach in a full-size ring for an extra fee. Yoga, Pilates and morning stretching classes are offered by many cruise lines, including Celebrity Cruises, which offers a special program with seven different types of yoga. If you’re into dancing, P&O Cruises, Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises, Cunard and Princess Cruises offer ballroom dancing classes, while on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class ships, you can fly through the air at circus school and Cunard will let you try your hand at fencing in the main ballroom.

ENTERTAINMENT


Big lights, bright city – no it’s not New York, it your cruise ship, where Broadway-style shows are a perennial hit. Princess Cruises, for example brought Tony Award-winning director and producer Stephen Schwartz onboard to create a special show, called Magic to Do, exclusively for the line.


But the entertainment aboard cruise ships is changing. While Broadway shows are still popular, cruise lines now have innovative showcases that go above and beyond what you’d expect at sea. On P&O’s Pacific Explorer, Love Riot, created by Scott Maidment, is a risqué burlesque show that includes circus performances, sexual innuendo and dancers dressed in tight latex bodysuits playing with dildos and blow-up dolls.


On Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships, guests can watch divers leap from platforms 60 feet in the air into tiny pools of water at the Aqua Theatre, where they also perform amazing synchronized routines underwater. Also on certain Royal Caribbean ships is the amazing Two70 theatre where performers sing and dance against a state-of-the-art backdrop.


Many cruise lines also offer seminars onboard, with speakers ranging from politicians to professional mermaids. Silversea hosted Australian author Thomas Keneally, who penned the novel Schindler’s Ark, which was adapted into the Academy Award-winning movie Schindler’s List, while Seabourn hosted former prime minister Julia Gillard on one of their cruises.

KIDS


Cruising is one of the best ways for the entire family to holiday together – mums and dads can get some rest and relaxation and the kids can take advantage of the multitude of activities on offer onboard. Family-oriented lines like Royal Caribbean, P&O Australia, Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Disney Cruise Line not only have some of the best new rides and facilities for young cruisers but also some fantastic kids’ clubs where children can make friends in a safe, supervised environment. Most cruise lines cater for every age, from six months right up to teens.


Norwegian Cruise Line offers complimentary youth programmes with their Splash Academy (ages three to 12) and Entourage (ages 13 to 17). Alongside Norwegian’s well-trained staff, children experience a wide range of exciting activities including circus skills, sports, scavenger hunts, arts and crafts, and more. And while they're having the time of their lives, you can too, with a few precious hours of down time.


Check out what your kids can do on your next cruise. Royal Caribbean has features like surfing and sky diving simulators, bumper cars and arcade games, and the line’s partnership with DreamWorks Animation means fun parades and lots of cool activities. It isn’t out of the ordinary to find Shrek wandering past the buffet, or Po from Kung Fu Panda practicing his moves at one of the themed dance parties.


All-Aussie cruise line P&O has introduced the very popular P&O Edge adventure park, which features 20 different sporty activities, including rock climbing up the ship’s funnel and ziplining over the top deck. On the new Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Bliss, the two-storey go-kart racetrack will definitely keep the kids entertained, and if it doesn’t, the line has also built a laser-tag course for the entire family. On a Disney Cruise Line ship, kids can watch daily Disney musicals and take part in themed costume parties such as Pirate Night, hosted by the one and only Captain Jack Sparrow. Most cruise lines, including P&O, Royal Caribbean and MSC, also offer babysitting services for a fee during the day or evening, for when Mum and Dad want to have some alone time.

FOOD


Once upon a time, ship dining meant you would have been faced with a line around the corner for a bog-standard buffet. But today’s onboard food offerings are a far cry from what you would have found on P&O’s Fairstar.


One fine example is the partnership with celebrity chefs who have their own bespoke restaurants onboard ships. In local waters, Australian celebrity chef Curtis Stone has teamed up with Princess Cruises to create SHARE, a share-style venue featuring the best Australian produce; elsewhere, Luke Mangan has a long-standing relationship with P&O Cruises Australia and has Salt grill onboard the entire Aussie fleet. On international fleets, famous Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa, renowned for his delicate flavours, has speciality restaurants aboard Crystal Cruises ships, while on Dream Cruise’s Genting Dream, Sydney chef Mark Best combines Western and Asian flavours at Bistro.


If, having sampled delicious meals on your cruise, you want to learn how to cook some of those delicious recipes, many lines, including Windstar, Oceania Cruises and APT, offer dedicated food cruises. In Ho Chi Minh City on an APT Mekong cruise, Vietnamese-Australian chef Luke Nguyen will take you ashore to the markets he so fondly remembers. Chef Nguyen will take you to his favourite produce stalls and include a visit to his aunt who still works in the market.


These days, there are are just as many watering holes aboard cruise ships as there are restaurants. On certain Norwegian Cruise Line ships, you can drink at the Svedka Ice Bar, where the specialties include the famous Inniskillin ice wine and Svedka citrus vodka and where you can sit on an icy throne and drink from ice glasses. For a bit more fun, Royal Caribbean’s Quantum- and Oasis-class ships offer the Bionic Bar, where cocktails are shaken and stirred by robotic arms. Just key in your order and the robotic bartender will make your drink.

ACTIVITIES


The days of skeet-shooting off the back of Fairstar are gone. There are now activities that cater to everyone of all ages. Whether you like thrill seeking activities like zip lining across your ship or spending the day getting pampered in the spa, modern day cruise ships have it all.


The lines are continuously innovating new ways to keep guests entertained onboard and many ships have become destinations in themselves. On Norwegian Encore and Bliss, there’s a two-storey go-kart racetrack where guests can race against one another, while the P&O fleet has P&O Edge, an adventure park where guests can try their hand at ziplining, Segway rides, trampolining and more. On Royal Caribbean ships, guests can catch a wave on the surf simulator, slide down one of the steepest slides in the world (The Ultimate Abyss, shaped like a terrifying angler fish), or get blown away by the iFly sky-diving simulator.


On the flip side, for a bit of rest and relaxation, most cruise lines offer excellent pampering services. Celebrity Cruises has one of the largest spas at sea; on Celebrity Solstice, which regularly sails in Australian waters, guests can rest in the Persian Garden thermal suite, which has hot and cold rooms, spa services and a Turkish bath.


Seabourn has four penthouse spa suites aboard Seabourn Odyssey for guests wanting a spa vacation at sea. The 50-square-metre luxury suites each have an expansive private verandah and a spiral staircase leading to the spa lobby. Guests staying in these suites have unlimited access to the spa’s relaxation areas and amenities, and the services of the spa concierge.


There are plenty of things to do to beat the bulge onboard your ship. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Fight Klub, available on Breakaway-class ships, is a group boxing class using punching bags, while Royal Caribbean’s Freedom- and Oasis-class ships offer boxing lessons with an experienced coach in a full-size ring for an extra fee. Yoga, Pilates and morning stretching classes are offered by many cruise lines, including Celebrity Cruises, which offers a special program with seven different types of yoga. If you’re into dancing, P&O Cruises, Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises, Cunard and Princess Cruises offer ballroom dancing classes, while on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class ships, you can fly through the air at circus school and Cunard will let you try your hand at fencing in the main ballroom.

ENTERTAINMENT


Big lights, bright city – no it’s not New York, it your cruise ship, where Broadway-style shows are a perennial hit. Princess Cruises, for example brought Tony Award-winning director and producer Stephen Schwartz onboard to create a special show, called Magic to Do, exclusively for the line.


But the entertainment aboard cruise ships is changing. While Broadway shows are still popular, cruise lines now have innovative showcases that go above and beyond what you’d expect at sea. On P&O’s Pacific Explorer, Love Riot, created by Scott Maidment, is a risqué burlesque show that includes circus performances, sexual innuendo and dancers dressed in tight latex bodysuits playing with dildos and blow-up dolls.


On Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships, guests can watch divers leap from platforms 60 feet in the air into tiny pools of water at the Aqua Theatre, where they also perform amazing synchronized routines underwater. Also on certain Royal Caribbean ships is the amazing Two70 theatre where performers sing and dance against a state-of-the-art backdrop.


Many cruise lines also offer seminars onboard, with speakers ranging from politicians to professional mermaids. Silversea hosted Australian author Thomas Keneally, who penned the novel Schindler’s Ark, which was adapted into the Academy Award-winning movie Schindler’s List, while Seabourn hosted former prime minister Julia Gillard on one of their cruises.

KIDS


Cruising is one of the best ways for the entire family to holiday together – mums and dads can get some rest and relaxation and the kids can take advantage of the multitude of activities on offer onboard. Family-oriented lines like Royal Caribbean, P&O Australia, Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Disney Cruise Line not only have some of the best new rides and facilities for young cruisers but also some fantastic kids’ clubs where children can make friends in a safe, supervised environment. Most cruise lines cater for every age, from six months right up to teens.


Norwegian Cruise Line offers complimentary youth programmes with their Splash Academy (ages three to 12) and Entourage (ages 13 to 17). Alongside Norwegian’s well-trained staff, children experience a wide range of exciting activities including circus skills, sports, scavenger hunts, arts and crafts, and more. And while they're having the time of their lives, you can too, with a few precious hours of down time.


Check out what your kids can do on your next cruise. Royal Caribbean has features like surfing and sky diving simulators, bumper cars and arcade games, and the line’s partnership with DreamWorks Animation means fun parades and lots of cool activities. It isn’t out of the ordinary to find Shrek wandering past the buffet, or Po from Kung Fu Panda practicing his moves at one of the themed dance parties.


All-Aussie cruise line P&O has introduced the very popular P&O Edge adventure park, which features 20 different sporty activities, including rock climbing up the ship’s funnel and ziplining over the top deck. On the new Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Bliss, the two-storey go-kart racetrack will definitely keep the kids entertained, and if it doesn’t, the line has also built a laser-tag course for the entire family. On a Disney Cruise Line ship, kids can watch daily Disney musicals and take part in themed costume parties such as Pirate Night, hosted by the one and only Captain Jack Sparrow. Most cruise lines, including P&O, Royal Caribbean and MSC, also offer babysitting services for a fee during the day or evening, for when Mum and Dad want to have some alone time.