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  • Reunited in Rotterdam

    Rotterdam, The Netherlands After the timeless allure of Bruges in Belgium as part of our enriching two-week Western Europe Transatlantic voyage aboard the esteemed Celebrity Apex, we were reunited with our dear friends in Rotterdam. This day is hard to put into words. We were not even sure it was going to happen. We were communicating and trying to make it work, but as life happens, the universe was on our side to reunite us after 17 years apart in Rotterdam. Martine, a cherished friend I met in 1999 in Melbourne, had a family weekend away in Amsterdam, just as we happened to be in Rotterdam, her hometown. Despite the time constraints and logistical challenges, Martine and her family raced back to Rotterdam, managing to spend an hour together before our ship set sail. Truly, it was an hour to be cherished. Martine and I met when she was backpacking in Melbourne in 1999. We joined Medibank the same day and quickly became friends; you couldn't keep us apart. She finally had to return home after living in Melbourne for an extended period; it was a sad day, and we were inseparable. She even moved in with me for a short period. But we stayed in touch, and she had plans to return as my maid of honour for my first wedding, so we were reunited in 2002; then, in 2006, Wayne and I visited her in Rotterdam. Over the years, we've stayed in touch, fostering our connection despite the physical distance. An unfortunate accident five years ago thwarted our plans to reunite in Paris for my 40th birthday, making this long-awaited reunion in Rotterdam all the more magical. We had a beautiful hour meeting her little ones, who are now, of course, teenagers and six feet tall (Holland is the land of the giants) and reminiscing on the old times and how easy it was to pick up where we left off, like no time had passed, the epitome of true friendship. Wayne had so much fun reconnecting with Marcel (M's hubby) by staying up all night playing board games and knocking on random doors in Amsterdam, which were clubs, of course). After an hour filled with tears, laughter, and seventeen years of catching up, we bid our friends farewell and embarked on our voyage towards Norway. This unforgettable reunion has taught us a valuable lesson—the importance of nurturing friendships and cherishing our time together. It has also sparked our determination not to let such precious catch-ups become few and far between. As a result, we are already busy planning a future getaway in Rotterdam, ensuring that our friendship continues to thrive. Sailing out of Rotterdam, the breathtaking views and the unique sight of oil rigs accenting a glorious sunset filled us with overwhelming excitement. Finally, reuniting with one of our oldest friends reminded us of the immeasurable joy and fulfilment of companionship. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the universe for orchestrating this reunion and to Martine and her beautiful family for cutting their weekend getaway short to find us again.

  • The Timeless Allure Of Bruges

    Zeebrugge & Bruges, Belgium After basking in the charm of La Havre in Northern France as part of our enriching two-week Western Europe Transatlantic voyage aboard the esteemed Celebrity Apex, we were beckoned by the allure of Zeebrugge and Bruges in Belgium. Ah, Bruges – a city that never fails to weave its magic, making each day a truly enchanting experience. Our journey commenced with a brisk walk from the ship in search of an Uber or taxi. However, the popularity of this option among passengers made it clear that pre-booking a driver is the savvy move when you're docked in Zeebrugge, a good 15 kilometres away from the heart of Bruges. After a half-hour stroll revealed the weekend rail closures, our luck with Uber eventually turned, leading us to the delightful Mohammed from Ethiopia, our eventual hero, who ensured our timely return to the ship. Entering the bustling centre square of Bruges, memories flooded back from our 2008 weekend escapades in this charming city. Our gaze caught the horse-drawn carriages, evoking recollections of Cate Blanchett enjoying a similar ride with her children in 2008. With merely 2.5 hours to spare in Bruges, our quest was to craft a memorable day while skirting the tourist masses. Joining the queue, twenty minutes later found ourselves atop a horse carriage, guided by the elegant Ceynode through the bustling streets of the city centre. The horse-drawn carriage experience was indeed magical, a treat for any horse enthusiast like myself. As Ceynode gracefully led us, we absorbed tidbits of city information amidst the resonating echoes of hooves against cobblestones, creating a symphony of historical charm. After a brief rest for Ceynode in a serene corner surrounded by canals and swans, we resumed our clip-clopping journey through narrow streets, ushering tourists aside as we traversed the city's historic paths. Returning to the main square after an enriching 60 Euros experience, we bid adieu to our skilled carriage driver, ready for the next highlight of our adventure. Discovering secluded terraces along the canal, we found solace at Hotel De Orangerie for a tranquil champagne respite, enhanced further by fresh strawberries and exquisite Belgian chocolates, away from the tourist crowds. No Belgian visit is complete without indulging in their famed chocolates. A quick detour to a nearby chocolate shop resulted in a sizeable but worthwhile purchase of these delectable treats. As our time in Bruges drew to a close, the challenge of finding a taxi or Uber for the return journey ensued. Amidst the transport hustle back to the ship, a stroke of luck led us to encounter Mohammed once more, our guardian angel, ensuring a safe return to our vessel. His timely appearance amid our search was truly miraculous, making us deeply grateful for his assistance. Bruges, a true treasure trove, has us already plotting our return for a more extended stay. Considering insights from the hospitable hotel staff, autumn and winter midweek getaways may offer the perfect opportunity to relish the city's beauty with fewer visitors, cozy fires, and vibrant seasonal hues.

  • The Charm of La Havre in France

    La Havre, France Following our visit to the Enchanting English Channel Coast on our two-week Western Europe Transatlantic voyage on Celebrity Apex, we found ourselves on the coast of France for the first time to La Havre. Ah, France! The ship has now docked in La Havre, a captivating port city nestled in the picturesque Normandy region of Northern France. As we disembark, we are greeted by the enticing allure of La Havre, aptly named "the harbour" or "the port." While many passengers rush off to the romantic city of Paris, with its iconic landmarks and eternal charm, we decide to savour the tranquillity and charm of La Havre. After all, why spend five hours on a return trip when there is so much to explore right here? Around lunchtime, we seize the opportunity to stretch our legs and increase our daily step count. A leisurely 15-minute walk takes us from the ship to the heart of the city centre. The journey itself is a delightful glimpse into the local life of this captivating town. As we meander through the streets, we stumble upon a vibrant market, and who could resist the allure of a traditional French market? The stalls are laden with fresh meat and produce, and the flower shops entice us with their burst of colours. It's a feast for the senses, and we revel in the atmosphere. The intoxicating aroma of freshly baked bread wafts through the air, drawing us irresistibly toward a Boulangerie. How could we resist indulging in a perfectly flaky croissant? It surpasses all expectations, and we are transported to a realm of culinary bliss. Attempting to order in French only adds to the charm, creating a warm rapport with the owner and sharing a few chuckles as we navigate the pronunciation. Intermittent rain showers attempt to dampen our spirits, but we seek refuge in the shelter of the nearby shops, determined to make the most of our time in this enchanting city. Despite the occasional drizzle, we relish the experience of immersing ourselves in a new place, even if it appears a bit sleepy today. The harmonious tones of the French language resonate in our ears, reminding us of our love for this captivating country. Rejuvenated by our explorations in La Havre, we eagerly anticipate our return to France in August. We look forward to embarking on new adventures as we explore the world-renowned Bordeaux wine region and indulge in the culinary delights of Paris, the epicentre of gastronomy. France has welcomed us with open arms again, reminding us of the limitless joy of travelling and immersing ourselves in new cultures.

  • Enchanting English Channel Coast

    Weymouth & Southampton, UK Following our visit to the shores of Ireland as part of our two-week Western Europe Transatlantic voyage on Celebrity Apex, we sailed the English Channel coast to visit Portland, Weymouth and Southampton in the UK. Weymouth, Dorset - UK When visiting a seaside fishing village in the UK, one simply cannot miss out on sampling Fish 'n' Chips. That's precisely what we did as soon as we arrived in Weymouth, a charming and picturesque fishing village in Dorset. The warm and friendly vibes of this place instantly made us feel at home, with the impending Coronation it was a great time to be in the UK to see the fanfare that goes on during the lead-up. Weymouth is known for its beautiful sandy beach adorned with colourful huts and a picturesque harbour surrounded by inviting English pubs, each with its own unique name. It was an absolute pleasure to have Mum and Dad by our sides as we travelled from North America to Europe, experienced all these new places together, and created memories. We chose to dine at the Old Rooms Inn, conveniently located by the harbour. We savoured every bite of the fresh fish and chips, accompanied by the obligatory side of peas. Our appetites were truly satisfied! After our delicious meal, we strolled towards the beach, battling the windy weather. But once we set foot on that beach and felt the precious sand tingling on our faces, we had to admit that our friends from the UK were right – they do have white sandy beaches, too! We even stumbled upon an old-fashioned newsagent, a rare sight these days, where we indulged in some magazines to complete the beach experience. Our time in Weymouth was too short, but we couldn't leave without witnessing the young ones trying their luck with crab fishing. It was a delightful activity, with children lowering their bait on a string and small net into the water, hoping to catch a crab. If you have more time in Weymouth, consider visiting the Portland Castle, a UNESCO fort, the D-Day Centre and the WWII Museum. Unfortunately, we missed the D-Day Centre as it closes early. As our ship sailed away from Weymouth, we were bid farewell by soldiers with a thunderous canon salute – a truly memorable departure from this charming village. Only a bite-sized taste of this region, but full of charm, great food, and views, and we know there are lots more to experience and enjoy. Weymouth, you are a little UK favourite. Southampton, HAMPSHIRE - UK Our next stop was Southampton, a bustling port city that holds a deep connection to WWII, having served as a staging area for the D-Day attack. This vibrant city is filled with history, endless shopping opportunities, great restaurants, and superb pubs. As our ship docked close to the heart of Southampton, we took the morning to catch up on work and then set off to explore the old city. Southhampton is also where my Mum sailed from when she was only four years old with her family from Finland to migrate to Australia; visiting the same port together was a memorable experience. Walking around Southampton, we couldn't help but feel a sense of familiarity. The beautiful pubs, cobblestone streets, and scattered old buildings and churches reminded us of our time living in London. And the accents surrounding us added to the comforting ambience. We wanted to experience the city in a way we knew best for lunch. That's when we stumbled upon a fine-dining Chinese restaurant in a stunning old bank building. With Peking Duck as their signature dish, we knew we were in for a treat. And to complement the meal, we couldn't resist ordering our favourite cocktail, an Espresso Martini. The ambience, decor, food, cocktails, and service were exceptional – a true delight for the senses. After the satisfying lunch, we decided to freshen our hairstyles with a trim at a local barbershop. The barbers, who were from Lebanon and shared our passion for travel, made the experience even more enjoyable. And at just £15 each, we walked out feeling delighted with our new look. As we made our way back to the ship, we couldn't resist stopping by a cosy inn for a refreshing G&T. In fact, one drink just wasn't enough – we ended up having two. We enjoyed chatting with the inn's team and listening to their stories. As evening fell, we embarked on the ship again, sailing past the Isle of Wight over dinner as we headed down the English Channel toward France. Southampton had left us with fond memories of historical charm, culinary delights, and heartwarming encounters along the way. Weymouth and Southampton offered us a taste of the UK's rich history, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality. We can't wait to explore more of what this country has to offer in the future.

  • Reaching The Shores Of Ireland

    Cobh & Cork Navigating rough seas and reaching the shores of Ireland. Ah, the unpredictable seas of the Atlantic Ocean. For those of us who have embarked on a cruise, we know that not every day on the open waters is smooth sailing. Sometimes, the waves can reach daunting heights of about 4 meters, causing a bit of turbulence for the passengers aboard. But for us seasoned cruisers, it's nothing more than a walk in the park. After six eventful days of crossing the Atlantic as part of our two-week Western Europe Transatlantic voyage on Celebrity Apex, we finally arrived at our first port of call: Ireland. Our ship gracefully docked in Cobh, a picturesque seaside town that exudes the charm and spirit of the Irish culture. As we stepped ashore, we couldn't help but appreciate the colourful homes that lined the streets, creating a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere. Cobh The first port of call was Ireland, and we docked in Cobh, a lovely seaside Irish town where the homes are colourful that line the streets, all nestled around a magnificent church perched up on the hill. The cathedral is one of the tallest buildings in Ireland, standing at 91.4 metres. Cobh is also the last known place the Titanic visited before its sad departure; there was a museum just off the ship, although we didn't get a chance to visit it. After a quiet stroll around Cobh, we were on the very convenient train a few steps from the ship that commuted to and from Cork every half hour for only a €6.90 return. The trip was 20 minutes to Cork and was a scenic commute for all to enjoy; we loved the beautiful little fishing villages and nature scapes as we whizzed by. Cork Arriving in Cork, you have a ten-minute stroll to the city centre by the riverside, where you can roam the streets and enjoy the architecture and beautiful churches scattered around the city as the little rivers and bridges surprise you as you walk. The city centre also has a selection of city walks should you have the time; they would be ideal for unwrapping the city and enjoying the sights thoroughly. Cork is home to the Blarney Castle, where a stone says, 'Whoever kisses, OH! He never misses, to grow eloquent' and Jameson Whiskey, so plenty to keep visitors entertained. With only a few hours, we kept to the city to be back on the ship before departure time. As we sailed towards the UK, we enjoyed a beautiful dinner in our favourite restaurant on the ship, Raw on Five, devouring Japanese and champagne, followed by our first magical sunset for the week.

  • Sailing Into Bermuda

    Hamilton, Bermuda It was time to make our way back to Europe after 12 months of incredible adventures. Here is a little summary to remind ourselves of the year we just experienced; it goes by so fast you need to pinch yourself it actually happened: One month in Canada Alaskan Cruise (7 days) North to South Pole Cruise (93 days) One month in Argentina Circumnavigation of South America Cruise (110 days) Seven months at sea wasn't quite long enough, so we opted to cross the Atlantic by ship to bring us back to Europe for the remainder of 2023. This time was extra special as my parents were cruising with us to spend a few months travelling together; after four years between catchups, it was a great way to make up for lost time and a trip we treasure dearly. Thank you, Mum & Dad! We were to embark on a 22-day back-to-back cruise, the first segment crossing the Atlantic and visiting Bermuda, Ireland, the UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, followed by a majestic 7-day cruise through the Norwegian Fjords, another bucket list item! As part of our two-week Western Europe Transatlantic voyage on Celebrity Apex, we had the weather gods on our side. Our very first port after two days at sea as we left Florida in our rearview mirror was another of those ports that are hit and miss on a cruise; the weather is the dictator, whether you dock or not. Welcome to Country No.70, our first destination on our Transatlantic crossing to Europe. After two days sailing from Fort Lauderdale, we arrived in Bermuda's cosmopolitan capital, Hamilton. Bermuda, we have been told, is one of those stops on the crossing that is like winning the weather lottery, and we were in luck. Upon disembarking the ship, you are immersed in crystal-clear turquoise waters boasting abundant tropical and local fish life; you are mesmerised by the sea life activity and the beautiful display of colours from all the different species. As we were docked at the Royal Navy Dockyard, you were deposited directly in the harbour surrounded by various vessels providing a marine parade as you wandered around. As we disembarked, we were all mesmerised by the blue fish swimming in the crystal blue waters. We continued our stroll around the charming and colourful seaside capital, full of history and beautiful architecture. The clock tower was the main attraction, which housed a great selection of souvenir boutiques for all the avid cruise shoppers. Here is a fun fact about the clock tower with its twin clocktowers that rise 100 feet overhead; one displays the current time, while the other tells the day's high tide. We enjoyed capturing the essence of the village, and with more time, you would definitely explore and enjoy the pristine beaches all nearby. As we sailed away later in the afternoon, you were spoilt with million-dollar views and homes to match. Bermuda is definitely worth an extended stay to capture and experience all the goodness, local culture and undoubtedly an excellent culinary scene.

  • A real-life rocket launch

    Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island, Florida, USA The odds of experiencing a real-life rocket launch were not in our favour, with only two days scheduled in Cape Canaveral during April when we were reunited with my lovely parents from Australia after five years to prepare for the transatlantic crossing to Europe for Summer. Lo and behold, a rocket launch was organised on the day we had planned to visit the Kennedy Space Centre (KSC). Wayne was tickled pink, being the space nerd that he is! We road-tripped our way from Miami to Cocoa Beach, just under four hours drive, nice and easy in the gigantic truck we had leased through our trusty SIXT. They upgraded us from the X5 to a GLS450. I am sure to feel part of the big American dream! Wayne was a legend in navigating the beast, as we called it, along the eight-lane highways. The morning was upon us, and there was no encouragement in getting the boy up early. The rocket launch was scheduled for 8.18 a.m., so we popped to the rooftop for front-row seats whilst most other hotel guests lined the beach for the viewing. We had the countdown on, and it reached 0.00, and we all stilled and watched, but no action! The launch was aborted! We quickly refreshed our countdown, and lo and behold, we were still in luck. The new launch time was 10:30 a.m., giving us ample time to jump in the car for the KSC and watch the launch from a viewing platform. After arriving, we quickly scoped out the viewing platform and found our positions; the visitor centre organised live commentary to walk you through the launch. He was valuable in helping you fully appreciate the experience, especially for launch virgins. The countdown crept to 0.00, and it was on. We all looked up in the launchpad direction, and within milliseconds, we saw this blindingly incredible bright flame flying rapidly in the sky. You felt the roar of the engines; the crackle was intense, and the power of the speed as it quickly disappeared out of sight. It was an incredibly surreal experience and one we will hold with us for time to come. (See video above). After the adrenaline of the launch settled, we took to the exhibits for a history lesson on the real-life tales of rocket launches. You will find the Saturn V and Atlantis Space Shuttle on display, which were quite the sight to see; the size is overwhelming, along with simulators for all to experience, although being a lunch day, it was busier than expected, and queues are not our thing, so we skipped out. Mars rovers were also available for all to get their little eyes on; they were the same models currently crawling around Mars, with live streams of their findings as they crawled around and explored Mars. The KSC is a fully visitor-funded complex, costs USD 80 per person, discounts are available for the seniors, and would you believe Wayne forgot he was over 55, total price for him! Since December 1968, KSC has been NASA's primary launch centre of human spaceflight. About 700 facilities and buildings are grouped throughout the centre's 144,000 acres, of which less than 5% is used for the operations of KSC and shares a boundary with the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge on Florida’s east coast, where nature and technology co-exist. The space centre uses only 6,000 acres, leaving the remaining land for the wildlife to enjoy in their natural habitats. The species of bird life was spectacular, with over 1500 species of plants and animals. We caught a glimpse of a bald eagle who has been nesting in the park for 30 years, and we even caught sight of a few alligators whilst driving by. After a full day of exploring the centre, we were beaten. We skipped meeting the astronaut as we were fortunate to visit the KSC in 2014, so this was the second time around, and the rocket launch was the penultimate and has completed the space nerd's dreams!

  • Topless drive to Key West

    During our week settling back into Miami after our 110 days at sea to explore South America in April, we had planned the obligatory topless drive to the Keys with our dear friends who were visiting from Brazil to the end of the road, as some may call it to transport ourselves into the homes and architecture of New England… We are all too familiar with the long stretch of road that we see decorate the southern tip of Florida from the US box office hits we have seen over the years. The Keys are a coral cay archipelago, a string of tropical islands stretching about 120 miles off the southern tip of the U.S. state of Florida, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Would you believe you are just 93 miles from Cuba once you reach the end? Home to the third-largest coral reef in the world. The Keys are a destination for fishing, boating, snorkelling, scuba diving, vacations and retirement. We were picked up bright and early in Miami by our friends visiting Miami from Brazil; spending time together again after meeting a few months ago in Santos while cruising Brazil's beautiful coast was precious. Miami skies had decided to take a breather after three days of torrential rain, so it was the perfect day for a long drive. Four and a half hours later, we arrived in Key West; the waters along the way were the classic clear turquoise, scattered with fishing boats and marine activity as we inched our way to the end. However, as we arrived in Key West, the four-by-two-mile island on the tip of the Peninsula, the hues had migrated into darker tones. The buildings and homes were all charming and beautiful. Duval main street screamed tourism, and as we walked the hot paths in the midday sun, we soon realised it was going to be challenging to find the dining experience that we were hoping for, a beautiful seaside view restaurant with white tablecloths, a place you could sit back to relax and enjoy a slow lunch devouring delicious overpriced food and wine. This dream of ours soon became a false reality, as all the culinary venues we hunted for only opened from 5 p.m. Still, you had an abundance of options with plastic chairs, paper napkins and casual-style bistros, pubs, and cafes to peruse. We settled on a simple place that also guaranteed air con to nourish our bodies and continue our way. With Key West being the birthplace of key lime pie, this was on the list; unfortunately, after consuming a burger, space was limited, so we had to bypass it. With the impending long drive home, our friends stopped off for a tour of the Hemingway Residence whilst Wayne and I felt our USD36 for the entrance fee was better spent on an afternoon beverage. We enjoyed visiting a local hotspot, Moondog, to chat with the team and visiting regulars to learn more about the small town of Key West. This was tucked a street back from the heavy tourist Duval Street. The sacred Rooster was of interest; as you drive into Key West, you oddly notice the colourful roosters roaming the streets and strutting through the traffic. The story goes back in the day when the chickens served their purpose as a source to provide an endless quantity of eggs and Sunday dinners for the residents, and cockfighting was also legal and was a favourite gambling activity of many southern men. The chickens started escaping the backyards and soon became known as the Gypsy Chickens around town. Then, in the late 1980s, when cockfighting became illegal, the Roosters were released to join them. Key West chickens roaming the streets are descendants of jungle fowl originating in Cuba and the Caribbean islands. Due to the vital part, they played in keeping everyone with their daily nourishment, and the island has a no-kill policy, they are protected, and now the local mascot and you will find the rooster as inspiration amongst all the local designers from artwork, jewellery, clothing on and so on. The Florida Keys definitely deserve an overnight stay and thorough research. We honestly went with the flow, which damaged the experience. To truly appreciate the vibe, you need to have a plan; there are more than 800 keys in southern Florida, and the coastline changes dramatically. Therefore, you might also find what you are looking for earlier in the road trip. The locals were very friendly with lovely energy; the dining scene was focused on evenings, and with the live music exuding from most venues, the evenings were designed to provide a wonderful and lively experience for visitors. We were blessed all the same to spend a day with our gorgeous friends and relish the moment we are both in the same city, the same country at the same time after only having met in Brazil a few months ago; our hearts are full 💛

  • Four months cruising South America

    Join us as we embark on a new cruise, this time 110 days, circumnavigating South America from Miami to Miami. We joined the beautiful Marina ship with Oceania Cruises on 18 December and disembarked in Miami on 6 April. Over 110 days, we explored three continents, 17 countries and 51 destinations—a few bucket list destinations: Amazon, Panama Canal and Antarctica. We look forward to sharing our four months at sea, but first, we share our first few days at sea and our Oceania experience from Miami to the Caribbean. It was our first time sailing with Oceania Cruises, and from the moment we embarked to the very last day of our 110 days, Oceania were exceptional. The crew was and is an absolute delight. The level of care and service was limitless, the energy and friendly nature of all the staff were infectious, and we quickly became friends and family. We also have left with many new friendships from our sailing, both crew and guests, which we treasure and look forward to finding each other again on our travels. The food is divine, and after four months, we still missed out on some dishes we were hoping to try. (If you will recall our last three-month cruise with Hurtigruten, they repeated the same menu for two days in the suite restaurant with only three options, and then this would repeat the following week for three months; this was very disappointing), and it was refreshing to be on a ship with outstanding dining. Marina has four specialty dining restaurants (all-inclusive), and each restaurant prepares a distinctive set of dishes based on its culinary expertise. Classic French fare at Jacques to vibrant Asian cuisine at Red Ginger, or Toscana, where Tuscan cuisine evolved from rich family traditions, mothers and grandmothers of Oceania's own Italian culinary staff recipes and, of course, a favourite steakhouse at Polo Grill. All restaurants are world-class. The Grand Dining Room and a terrace cafe (buffet restaurant) range from continental cuisine with a fantastic selection of worldly cuisines changing daily, approximately on a two-week cycle. You are spoilt with choice. There are two private dining venues, Privee and La Reserve (both at additional cost). Privee is an opulent, intimate dining venue that transforms dinner between Polo Grill and Toscana into a luxurious affair. At La Reserve, you can enjoy a unique dining menu that creates distinctive pairing dinners. You also have Baristas with illy coffee (included in your cruise fare) for your morning coffee fix and afternoon tea in Horizons to treat yourself to tea and scones. Red Ginger - Asian (Specialty Restaurant) Toscana - Italian (Specialty Restaurant) Jacques - French (Specialty Restaurant) Polo Grill - Steakhouse (Specialty Restaurant) The Grand Dining Room - Continental and International cuisine (Lunch - sea days and dinner) Afternoon Tea in Horizons Marina, the ship was built in 2011 and has a capacity of 1250 passengers and 800 crew. We found the ship spacious; you could always find a quiet, relaxing spot. The staterooms are spacious, too, and it was a treat to have a bathtub in the room; the beds are heavenly and have ample storage; you pop your suitcases under the bed so there is no clutter. We spent lots of time in our balcony room and didn't feel claustrophobic over this duration. We loved being on the cruise over Christmas and New Year; it was a lovely way to celebrate and have all the decorations sprinkled around the ship. We were also very impressed with the beautiful Christmas gift from Oceania, a gorgeous handmade wooden chopping board and a beautiful card.

  • It's time for a taste of Mexico

    Costa Maya | Cozumel Welcome to Mexico, a country we have had on our list for decades to visit and our final destination from our 110 days with Oceania, cruising from Miami to Miami whilst circumnavigating South America. Mexico is country No.69 as we continue to travel around the world slowly. Since we decided to travel endlessly six years ago, we have ticked off 49 countries in the past six years. Costa Maya, Mexico Costa Maya was our first sample of Mexico, and we planned the day by researching all the beach clubs that provided great food, service and cocktails, in addition to the sandy white beach and turquoise waters that we all know Mexico is well known for. We were booked for a lazy day at Malecón 21 Beach Club soaking up the sun and relishing we were in Mexico. As you disembark from the ship, you enter a very well-designed shopping complex with a pool and sun beds for all the cruisers who don’t want to venture out and can have fun in the sun for the day. They don’t make it easy to escape, but after you stroll past the endless shops trying to engage you in conversation, you set your sights on the taxis; it was refreshing; they were a fixed cost of USD4 each. Thank you, Mexico! After ten minutes, we were perched up on our sun beds for the day, surrounded by the most beautiful turquoise waters and simply pristine white sand; we were impressed. The ever-attentive service from the team was exceptional, and they kept us hydrated and nourished all day. We enjoyed the relaxation; after a few hours of sun, we needed to escape to the restaurant with divine views of the beach to give our fair Aussie skin a break! Ladies and gents were transversing the beach throughout the day, selling merchandise, from cigars to hammocks to bowls and trinkets; you could easily set up a house with one visit to the beach. They were all charming, and there was no pressure to buy as they walked by. Overall, our experience was excellent. The peaceful nature of the beach club, the chilled-out tunes, and the quality of drinks and food were top-notch, all served in glass with paper straws by the waterside. The team were also a delight; they have a selection of packages for cruisers that you booked on their website. Our package was USD30 each for sun beds and wifi, and this charge is credited back to you on your spending during the day, so there is no additional cost. It was nearing departure time, so we took our sun-kissed bodies and shared a cab with some fellow passengers who had also spent the day at Malecón 21, who were lovely and had been on the ship since Buenos Aires; it’s wild how you can be in the same space for nearly two months and not meet! To embark the ship, you must walk through the cruise complex to return to the ship and be enticed by last-minute duty-free purchases. We were also surprised by the actual real flamingos on display, which we missed during the morning; we quickly captured some beautiful pics and then scampered back to our home. Mexico, you are now in our sights for an extended travel stay in the future. Fun facts: Costa Maya is a beautiful 45km coastline made up of the destinations of Chetumal, Bacalar and Mahahual, located southeast of the Yucatan Peninsula between the Riviera Maya and Belize, north of Chetumal and approximately 4 hours from Cancun. The region has natural beauty, turquoise waters, fine white sand, palm trees and bright sun. It is a true paradise of calm, relaxation, adventure, and fun, where you can also feel the warmth and hospitality of its people in each of its corners. Costa Maya is one of the priority places to develop tourism in Quintana Roo; essential efforts are made to maintain 60% of the territory for nature reserves. The Mayan Reef is also located in this beautiful paradise for snorkelling and diving fans, and the coastline has an endless number of virgin beaches and coral reefs of incomparable beauty, internal lagoons and cenotes in the middle of the jungle. Costa Maya also connects archaeological sites for all those history lovers. Cozumel, Mexico The final destination of our 110-day voyage around South America was the island of Cozumel, where we captured the essence and vividness of the colours of Mexico. Cozumel is located just off the east coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and is directly across the water from Playa Del Carmen and about an hour and a half from Cancun. It is also located on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef and is an incredible spot for turquoise Caribbean waters, white sand beaches, and world-class diving and snorkelling. As we arrived by ship, we were docked in San Miguel, designed for cruisers who love to shop, so we just went for a walk and tried to avoid the midday sun. Once defeated, we returned to the ship with a local 20-year-old Mezcal to sample; after a full day in the sun in Costa Maya, we needed to hibernate. We enjoyed the friendly people, and if we had more time, we would have hunted down a local restaurant to devour some Mexican food, but most along the beach were touristy, and we didn’t want to be disappointed. We will save the culinary journey of Mexico for the next trip. A beautiful ending to this magnificent cruise; who would have thought 110 days was not enough? We spent our final nights as Miami came into sights, enjoying time with our favourite crew members, who had now become dear friends and feeling grateful for an incredible 110 days of delicious food, meeting lots of new friends and having the opportunity to visit all the great destinations. Overall, we explored three continents, 17 countries and 51 destinations—a few bucket list destinations: Amazon, Panama Canal and Antarctica (coming soon). We will miss everyone onboard Oceania and can’t wait for future cruises! Thank you!

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