It’s high summer and everyone wants a holiday in the sun. But a beach house in January is an expensive option and who wants to pay big bucks for a trip just to hear kids chanting, “I’m bored.” Cruising is the ultimate solution and mums take note, there is absolutely no cooking on the agenda. Carnival Cruise Lines redefined fun at sea when Carnival Spirit sailed into Sydney Harbour three years ago. Now, with sibling Carnival Legend by its side, Sydneysiders have double the fun. Teens will scream as they ride the Green Thunder waterslide and little ones will happily play on purple mini-slides in the SplashZone. Parents can relax in the child-free Serenity Retreat and unwind with a massage in the spa. And everyone’s happy watching a big-screen movie and munching on popcorn. Now fresh from a multi-million dollar facelift, Carnival Spirit has even more to offer with new bars and casual eateries featuring a “south of the border” twist. The kids aren’t left out either – on the last day at sea they can enjoy decadent pancakes at the Dr Seuss Breakfast at Sea extravaganza.
January 4, 2016: 10-day New Caledonia and Vanuatu departing Sydney
Kickstart the new year aboard the fabulously revamped Carnival Spirit where the holiday starts before you’ve cleared the Heads. Unpack once, head up on deck to grab a margarita and watch the city slip away. The kids will already be in the pool. Over 10 days you’ll visit French-inspired Noumea and three idyllic islands where there’s little to do but swim, snorkel and sunbathe. What’s more, there are five carefree days at sea to enjoy the ship, bar-hop from pub to cocktail lounge, dive into the three pools, catch a comedy show and dine in style. Take a whistlestop tour of Noumea on the cute Tchou Tchou Train and enjoy a freshly baked pastry in a bayside café. On the limestone Loyalty Islands of Lifou and Mare, mingle with the colourful fish and turtles in lagoons and natural swimming holes enclosed by grottoes and rocky coral crops. On Mystery Island, mix it up with a bit of market browsing, snorkelling and snoozing under a palm tree.
January 9, 2016: Nine-day cruise to New Caledonia from Sydney
If you fancy brushing up on your French and poking around picture-postcard islands lapped by iridescent blue seas, New Caledonia is the place. Carnival Legend will call at four ports in the French Territory and spend another five leisurely days cruising the Pacific. Sister ship to the Spirit, Carnival Legend has all the great bars and as well as the Bonsai Sushi restaurant and Nouveau prime steakhouse. First stop is the glorious Isle of Pines, for many the pick of New Caledonia. Those in the know head straight to the “natural aquarium” at Oro, 19km away from the port, for a serious touch of paradise. Lifou and Mare have equally beautiful beaches with coral and fish galore. In Noumea, learn about the indigenous Kanaks at the stunning Renzo Piano-designed Tjibaou Culture Centre.
January 14, 2016: 10-day cruise to New Caledonia and Vanuatu departing from Sydney
This itinerary showcases two different faces of the South Pacific – the almost-deserted island and the “big city” port! Heading out from Sydney, Carnival Spirit spends three days at sea before dropping anchor at Mystery Island, which is small enough to walk around in 40 minutes. Next day, you’ll be strolling Vila’s main street, where good restaurants, smart boutiques and the South Pacific’s best duty-free shops stand side by side. Spirit heads south to Lifou, where many love to flop on gorgeous Plage de Luengoni, before its last stop in Noumea. It might be miles from Paris but the city has its share of good French fashion. Head to the Hermès store on Rue Georges Clemenceau, for starters!
January 18, 2016: Nine-day New Caledonia departing Sydney
If you missed the boat, Carnival Legend is heading back to spend the mid-summer cruising around this idyllic French Territory. If snorkelling’s your passion, pack your gear and reef shoes, because these little islands tick all the coral boxes. Once ashore on the Isle of Pines, head to Kanumera Bay, just a short walk from the wharf, for wonderful rock formations. In Lifou, it costs $15 to visit the fabulous marine reserve of Jinek Bay and absolutely nothing to spot turtles right by the wharf. In Mare, take a shuttle bus to fantastic Yejele Beach, where the corals are just off the beach and stalls sell snacks and cold beer.
January 24, 2016: Five-day cruise to Tasmania departing Sydney
Want a short break before heading back to work? Feel like spending Australia Day on the high seas? This five-day Tasmania cruise showcases one of Australia’s best preserved historic sites and one of its friendliest cities. Heading south from Sydney, there’s a full day at sea to explore Carnival Spirit from bow to stern, or sink back into a deckchair. Anchoring off Port Arthur, passengers are tendered ashore to wander among the ruins of the notorious 19th-century prison at their leisure. Then it’s on to Hobart, where a visit to the famous MONA art gallery is just a short ferry ride away. Wine lovers might like to head north to Richmond to try the cool-climate wines of the region and poke around this historic town.
January 29, 2016: Five-day cruise to Tasmania departing Sydney
Ahh, the sound of silence. The kids are back at school and singles and couples head for the high seas. With five days to kick back and enjoy, why not indulge in a few delights while travelling to Port Arthur and Hobart? Sign up for the Chef’s Table where a night of gourmet food starts with a champagne tour of the galley followed by a multi-course degustation with wine, for just 12 diners. Or what about an evening soak in a hot tub while watching a first-release movie on the big screen? There’s plenty to do day and night – and with fewer teens on board, there’ll be no queues to ride the exhilarating Green Thunder slide! Carnival Spirit has it all.
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