I’ve only been here for 4 weeks and I’ve already had to begin the business of booking my return trip. If I don’t do it now, there won’t be any rooms left so, unfortunately, I have to do it now. I am putting down a deposit today on the 23 day passage from Sydney to Seattle. Most of the stops are the same as the west bound crossing but there are some new ones. There’s an additional tender stop in Fiji (tender is lifeboats to shore, no cruise terminal), Apia, Samoa and instead of Hilo, we are stopping in Kauai.
I am also using a travel agent this time. I hadn’t planned on it due to the bad experience I’d had with the original trip. Besides, it was so easy to do it myself and I like to know exactly whats happening each step of the way. Leaving something to someone else and not knowing if they’re doing anything is stressful. So anyway, I stopped at an agency purely because I was having trouble booking my room on Amtrak online. I couldn’t call them from here without paying huge international rates on my cell phone so I figured I’d have the agency do it. I could always change my mind. I gave them all the information, since I’d already done it all online, and left it to them. The agent was very nice and got back to me the same day with a total! And…it was les than I had priced it out for. So using an agent can definitely save you money, even if you know exactly what you want. They have discounts available to them that self bookers wouldn’t have access to.
There are also a few things I learned on the first trip that I want to make sure I implement this time around.
First and foremost, make sure the room has a bunk! On the way across, you may remember, I slept on the fold out couch while the kids slept on the two twin beds. This lasted two weeks at which point my back was killing me! I spent the final week taking turns sharing with the girls in their tiny little beds. On our short trip from Sydney to Brisbane, we had a room with a third bunk that came down from the ceiling, it was perfect! I got one bed and the girls each had their own. I made sure this was the first thing I requested from the travel agent.
Second, make sure there’s a kids club. It was just a stroke of luck that we took Holland America and they had a fantastic kids area called Club HAL. The kids spent everyday up there, playing computer games, doing crafts, beading, you name it. I really loved how clean and organized everything was. There was a daily program of activities and the girls running it were amazing. If you’re thinking of cruising with kids, make sure there’s a program like this.
Third, you don’t have to cover every possible area on a port day. Find something you’d like to do and go do it. Enjoy it and don’t think about all of the other things you’re missing out on. You simply can’t visit every historical building, every souvenir shop, every beach at every port.
Because we are returning to Seattle instead of LA, we will be on a different route back to Boston. This is very exciting for me, I’m sure it will be extremely dull to the kids. I’m not sure of the stops yet but that’s for a later time anyway.
Instead, I want to enjoy the time I am spending here in gorgeous Australia. Can you believe it?! I’m in Australia! How many people get to say that? Well, 22.6 million Australians do I guess, but visiting Australia is pretty much on every bucket list of every person on the planet (except for Australians) so I’d better make the most of it.
I am desperate to see Uluru, but I think it may be a little too expensive for my budget. I know, I’m so close, but I have to think about the kids. If it were just myself, I could wing it on an overnight train. I don’t need three meals a day plus snacks, I don’t require room to run around every few hours to expel energy. Travelling with children requires a lot more planning and money. We’ll see how it pans out but for now, I can dream…