Destinations

Wendyl Nissen finds her bliss on the open seas

There are holidays for busy people and then there are holidays for busy people like me. My idea of taking a break is to find a sun lounger with a view of the sea and collapse into it for as long as possible.

Which is why I found myself perfectly suited to spending a week on board Royal Caribbean International’s Rhapsody of the Seas heading out from Sydney to New Caledonia.

Taking a week off is always a great idea, but so many times the stress of organising, packing and travelling can mean that you arrive back at work feeling like you really need another holiday.

But not with cruising. From the moment my husband and I turned up at the port in Sydney and gave our luggage to a man with a clipboard, the holiday had begun – cruise staff specialise in taking the worry out of travelling. We checked in, made our way to our stateroom, unpacked and that was it.

For the next eight days and seven nights every need was taken care of. Which in my case was simply to sit on our balcony, watch the sea go by and do a bit of knitting. Like many Kiwis, I have an affinity with the sea, and bobbing about on an ocean for a week is my idea of heaven.

our stateroom on the Rhapsody of the Seas was just like an upmarket hotel room, with crisp, white sheets and an ocean view to die for. It seemed like every time we left the room someone came by and gave it a spruce up, made the bed and left chocolates. I was also pleased to find that, unlike most cruise ships, our room had a jug, which meant I didn’t need to go too far if I needed a cup of tea to refresh me during my sea-watching sessions.

We sailed out of Sydney harbour and spent two days at sea getting to our first port of call, Noumea. This is a perfect time to wind down and explore the ship.

For adventurous types, there’s always something going on around the ship, such as pool volleyball, mini golf, dance lessons, bowling, or rock climbing. The Rhapsody even has a rock climbing wall for people who just can’t keep still – unlike me.

For those who need less physical stimulation but like to keep their minds active, you can play bridge, bingo, participate in the trivia quiz or listen to one of the speakers they have on the trip that give “enrichment lectures” about the history of your destination or the ozone layer. You should never be bored on the Rhapsody as the helpful staff specialise in occupying your time.

For me, the best part about cruising is eating. oany people will scare you with stories of having gained 5kg on one cruise, but actually the food, while plentiful, is of such a wide variety it is possible to eat very healthy meals if you want to.

We dined most nights in the formal Edelweiss Restaurant but took the oy Time Dining option which means you are not committed to the formal seating times of 6pm or 8.30pm, but can decide each day what time you wanted to eat. We usually chose 7.30 and always got a table just for two which meant we didn’t have to sit in groups talking to people we didn’t know. But, for some people, and certainly the ones we saw around us, meeting up with new friends and discussing the day’s activities was the highlight of their day. The important thing is that the Rhapsody caters for both types of diners.

Some nights we opted to go completely casual and visit the amazing Windjammer Café, which accomplished the feat of having a continuous buffet service going from breakfast through to well after dinner.

We found sushi there one night, oexican another, great pastas and always lots of healthy salads. And we often cruised by about 5pm to put together a little nibbles platter for drinks on our balcony and found meats, crudités and cheeses.

At night, my idea of heaven was an after-dinner drink in the wonderful Schooner Bar where Henry Saxby played the piano. Mr you could go to a Broadway show every night and finish off with a dance party.

By the time we reached Noumea I was well rested and even more well-fed, and ready for a day exploring a little bit of France in the Pacific. Noumea itself is a busy office area but a short taxi ride away is Baie des Citrons where you can join the locals and lie on the beach for the day, pausing to go to one of the many cafés for sustenance.

We travelled overnight out to the Ile des Pins which is a gorgeous island with white- sand beaches perfect for lying about on – if you’re anything like me – but if you’re more adventurous, you can snorkel or explore its many grottos and caverns.

And then it was back on board and another two days of sea-gazing. I left the Rhapsody in Sydney feeling like a new version of myself, complete with a nicely knitted baby singlet.

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