Cruising the East Coast of Australia


Having flown around many parts of Asia, South Pacific and the West Coast of America over several years of business trips and some locations for holidays, I felt it was time to experience cruising on one of the big ships.

I hadn’t been on a ship in over forty years and that trip from Sydney to Tasmania with my then-husband, three-year-old daughter, and our car took onto the Empress of Australia; isn’t actually a cruise ship. However, it did have an added benefit of being able to take our car enabling us to travel at leisure around Tasmania and experience the beauty of the most southern part of Australia.

My sister had experienced several cruises on big ships, it was advantageous to acquire her cruising knowledge and that we went together, in my case to experience a short length cruise. We chose ‘Carnival Spirit’ from Sydney to Moreton Island, four nights and five days.

On the day of departure, it was incredibly daunting to see the size of our ship docked at Circular Quay, Sydney, certainly much larger than my last cruise to Tasmania. This big ship held over 2,600 passengers and 1100 crew. I felt the air of excitement and anxiety as the night before it had been reported on the TV one of the Carnival cruise liners had a legal ‘class action’ pending due to Norovirus outbreak on their Sea Princess Ship. That is certainly not something one wanted to hear prior to boarding the same cruise liner ship. Thankfully not our chosen ship.

With the assistance of social media namely Facebook, my sister sourced the Carnival Ships Facebook Group for relevant information and found that over 100 users strong words of advice were “wash your hands often”. Also, the ships have plenty of opportunities for hand disinfectant dispensers.

I couldn’t believe how smooth the embarking was on the day of sailing out of Sydney Harbour.

It was all aboard; we headed straight to our cabins to see the size and atmosphere. Our cabin was forward ship one of the internal cabins on the lowest deck, which was actually close to all the action, bars, Showtime entertainment events, and the main dining area. However one of those bars turned out to be a nuisance as it was directly above our cabin, closing time was midnight. We managed to stay out so late that when we arrived back to our cabin we were too tired to even be bothered by the noise of the staff dragging the chairs back into position after closing time.

Neither of us wanted to eat at any of the buffet areas, too many choices, high chance of picking up a virus from passengers handling the food tools. We deliberately chose the fine dining area for most meals, some days we skipped lunch due to other activities we didn’t want to miss.

The best activity, of course, was docking out on the Coral Sea; Moreton Island, complete with our bathers, towels, suntan lotion, hats, and sunglasses. It is a small island 44 km with a population of about 298 and within view of the mainland Brisbane. There are a few resorts, a small police station, eateries, bar and entertainment for the passengers of Carnival Spirit. No food or drinks were allowed on shore. This is where the island makes most of its money, tourists paying high prices. Two sandwiches and bottled water cost me $38.

We had originally planned to do a dive around the shipwrecks and a ride on the Segways but thought the cost to do these was outrageous especially when we have been to other Pacific Islands and the Great Barrier Reef several times, so we decided to give them a miss. After all the money would be better spent on experiencing the amazing cocktails from one of the bars onboard the ship.

Our decision to just swim in the beautiful Coral Sea waters on Moreton Island and just enjoy the coolness of the water with the sun beaming down on us while watching all the activities around us with the added benefits of the cool salt water gushing around our bodies was perfectly sufficient for us.

The onboard ship’s entertainment was of high standard, something you would no doubt pay in excess of $80 to $100 dollars a show and we saw three amazing shows, followed by the adults-only Comedy Shows, the comedy was certainly R rated, whilst delighting in the array of Martinis, especially French Martini and the variety of our chosen cocktails.

The enormous size of our ship, gave us plenty of exercises, we both would have walked up several hundred stairs, sometimes used the lifts, strolled along the ships various decks, including the shopping arcade, top of the ship, where I felt a little nervous looking down into the sea, had a bit of vertigo!

There were several activities onboard the ship every day, sometimes we found it difficult to make a decision on which activities to attend and or participate. Each day we would get a program, decide collectively what looked the best and then enjoy.

For the evening meal, we were seated in the main dining area with four other ladies, who turned out to be a great company. The table was directly in front of a huge round window where we could see the flow of the ship’s water churning out below and behind the ship.

The nicest treat at the evening meal, directly after our mains were served was the dancing waiters. All the waiters would encourage participation from the guests. Of course my sister and self just had to participate, what a hoot!

Now back in Coffs Harbour and reflecting on my ‘big ship’ cruise, would I do it all again? Absolutely!

Bring on 2019 and another big ship adventure.



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