Our first trip together as a family! Our son Ryland (20 months) goes on his first overseas adventure!
  • Day12

    Disembark

    February 7 in Australia ⋅ ☁️ 25 °C

    Pulling open the drapes of our cabin today was less inspiring. Melbourne presented a dreary, foggy, overcast welcome. We were mostly packed and ready to go, just Rylands cot and a few bits and pieces to throw together.

    Time enough for one last breakfast, just, after how long and sketchy it was with service. The disembark process wasn't one of the best... slow, congested, disorganized. At least it gave Ryland some exercise time to have one last run around decks..

    Eventually we were off.. but with no trolleys or pick up access to the terminal I had to enter hulk/beast mode to pack-mule bags and Rylands cot to where dad was waiting with our car around 10am.

    We've enjoyed the trip overall, and glad we did it. Travelling with a young one was a real challenge and eye-opener but also very rewarding. We wouldn't prioritize cruising with Carnival again, nor prioritize the pacific/ same ports again. I feel like I need a holiday to recover from this holiday! (Though I've said that before!).

    We're proud and happy though that we can confidently say Ryland enjoyed himself. It was a great test/learning experience for him and I'm proud how adaptable, open, inquisitive, excited and fearless he was about everything. I feel things will get easier with him as he grows older. Overall trip review, probably a 6/10.

    Until next time, I'll look forward to our next adventure, when/wherever that may be.
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  • Day11

    Around Victoria and Wilsons Prom

    February 6 in Australia ⋅ ☁️ 24 °C

    Smooth seas overnight as we reached the coast of Victoria, just 40 nautical miles from shore. Again, cloudy skies and light rain the morning view - we haven't had the extent of summer weather I'd have hoped for.

    To break things up this morning, I decided to shell out the $12pp for a "Dr Suess" themed breakfast I hoped Ryland might enjoy. It turned out to be a good move, with plenty of wacky characters for him to meet, some eye catching decorations, bright food and even an activity book. Nat and I enjoyed the lark of tucking into some green eggs and ham of our own.

    Next up, the joys of packing and being extorted for overpriced photos.. It looks like there's a few nice ones to choose from too, especially from formal nights. We ended up buying 10 photos.. and getting them on usb. It wasn't cheap.. ($280)

    The pool was surprisingly (and disappointingly) emptied today, but I did spend some time in the spa to get some more sun. We did enjoy some spectacular views of the Australian coast from our balcony this evening.. really within touching distance of Wilsons Prom.

    We just about got Ryland through dinner asleep before the "Showtime" woke him.. The cruise has run it's course, and we're not shattered to be getting off. We put the majority of our packed luggage outside our room, and lay down for our final sleep on the Carnival Spirit.

    Review of Food/Beverage -
    As far as the restaurant goes, we've been largely pretty impressed with it across the board.. dinners and breakfasts have been pretty delicious, with a different international theme each night. The buffet/bistro option we've tried to avoid for ourselves, mostly using for Rylands lunches and dinners - Options and times of service/availability here have frustrated Nat... especially for kids... It's roast (non kid friendly vegies), pizza, or chips.. not once have they had spaghetti or pasta. Variety of wines and beers has been a bit light/underwhelming compared to other ships (I haven't had a single beer) and that typically bit overpriced. For once we didn't pay for the specialty restaurants this time (there was only steak or sushi), it didn't look like anyone did. There's a burger place and burrito/taco place by the pool.. but queues for anything are often very long.. again, layout and organisation has been wanting. Overall, 5.5/10 for food/beverage.
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  • Day10

    Sailing at Sea - Family Photo Shoot

    February 5, Coral Sea ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Another routine day at sea, heading down the east coast of Australia. It's a bit lackluster at this point, the trip coming to an end in a couple days, and nothing really new to do - Breakfast, wander around, light lunch, pool/spa, dinner, show, bed. Not that this is the worst routine, but it's frustrating we can't do much all together with Ryland.

    Today's routine was the same, Ryland was given heaps of running time around the Jungle circuit, the Warehouse video game arcade and the mini golf course on top deck.
    We rotated time at the adults only pool, and spruced Ryland up for the second and final formal night. He was a little stroppy and tired for this one, but we just about struggled through.

    He then made the professional photographers around the ship work very hard to get a smile out of him. We'd end up being pretty happy with some of the end-products!

    The show tonight was the best of the lot - Miss Houdini - a magic and acrobatics show. Ryland made it hard watching, especially for Nat, but we saw a lot of it. I have no idea how they create illusions like switching places in a second, twisting bodies around and exposing it or disappearing into impossible boxes. Very impressive.

    Onto other overall reviews; Entertainment - well tonight's magic show was by far the standout show on the ship... Streets ahead of anything else.. Prior to that point itd been underwhelming.. some dancing, prancing, singing, juggling/comedy.. The piano man at one bar was pretty good. There were scattered games; trivia, bean bag toss etc. We weren't really able to participate in. "Showtime" at dinner each night was mostly a bit obnoxious and tacky and just a risk to waking Ryland.. There was a theatre session on the big screen on deck most days we didn't watch (Ryland wouldn't sit still/ not allowed to swim). Most ships show/replay the theatre shows on tv but this one didn't unfortunately. Overall, 5/10 for entertainment.

    Next up - Service -
    Well I definitely wanted to wait a while before talking about this. There also needs to be a specific distinction between room stewards, and the rest of the ship.
    I really hate being super-critical, and nobody enjoys reading someone whinge.. but for the first 3-4 days, the dining/bar/general ship service was definitely the worst we'd ever experienced on any cruise.. that's the best I can say about it. Something as simple as communicating a message or ordering off a menu was a disaster.. mains, starters, you want what? Why? I guess? Here's your wrong order, im not really interested. Zero enthusiasm, slow, non-attentive.. often non-existent. Shore excursions staff were particularly dull, and unhelpful. After a few days, it's like a switch was flicked to activate decent service. It's been ok since.. Some staff have been at times friendly, especially interested in Ryland.. but as a whole, it's still been probably the worst service we've had on a cruise - with exception of cabin cleaners who have been top notch it's a 3.5/10 (boosted from 1 early days to a 6 by the end).

    Review - Itinerary - l think I'm just about done with these South Pacific Islands. It's the first time on any sort of trip I've been on, that the itinerary has been altered, especially on such short notice. It was a bit of a shame that it was the two NEW ports for us that were scratched, but overall, few (ourselves included) were too disappointed with the alternate ports that were organised for us, it meant another country afterall, and still at least one new port. That Port activity (Snorkeling in Port Vila) probably ended up being the favorite stop/activity for all three of us, which was fortunate.

    I'm keeping it in perspective - this holiday destination (the Pacific), the holiday method (a cruise to and from Melbourne with no flights) and the holiday pace (slow and limited) was all chosen specifically to accommodate an infant child. Fitting those parameters, it was a success, and a well-enjoyed, fulfilling experience. Beach holidays aren't really my thing (though I do love snorkeling), and most of the Pacific stops for cruising focus on just that. The greatest allure to me of these locations is the awe-inspiring untouched beauty of some of the isles around us.. and the conundrum of that, is the adventure I'd seek exploring and immersing myself in these places is denied by a) being on tourist cruise ship with a couple thousand people and b) travelling with a young child..

    Overall, given the opportunities, experiences, excitement and places visited, the itinerary itself was probably a 5-5.5/10.
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  • Day9

    Southward Bound

    February 4, Coral Sea ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Mostly a much needed day of rest and recovery today. After breakfast, I spent most of the morning and early afternoon in bed sleeping or resting, which helped me bounce back a notch from my cold.

    Good timing too on that front as rumors circle the ship about possible containment of coronaviris infections. Apparently crew are directing any ill/coughing passengers to the medical department.. All non-major ports/smaller islands in the Pacific have now been closed, recently visited Isle of Pines included. Word is many Pacific cruises are being cancelled. There's talk of Chinese passengers being denied access to Port Vila and others being confined to quarters. Others suspect we may be subject to quarantine upon arrival in Melbourne. We shall see.

    Feeling spritely and somewhat renewed in the afternoon I spent 90mins or so in the adults retreat (Nat visited earlier) where I gathered much of the above gossip. Tonight was the first where Ryland struggled to get to sleep.. still fussing as we finished dinner at 9pm (very noisy spot tonight though!). We checked out the earlier theatre show.. which was more balloon making than juggling.. and didn't hold our interest. Finally, jnr just collapsed about 9.45pm in his cot... The sound of snoring and dummy movement is music to our ears!

    Before I go on, I have to give a shout out of thanks to Bananas in Pyjamas, who have chipped in to help us with Junior now and then. I don't know what we'd have done without them!

    With little else of significance to report on our last days at sea see, I'll probably sum up/review the ship, the rooms, the service, the entertainment and the ports/itinerary in the final few entries.

    I'll start off with the ship as a whole -
    I'd read that this ship, Carnival Spirit had been refurbished a couple years ago.. but you wouldn't really think that. It's our second Carnival cruise and one of the smallest we've boarded. Overall, I've been pretty underwhelmed/disappointed by the design, layout and variety of the ship and features, it's a bit of a tub. Lots of narrow spaces, tiny pools, weird designs (things like view restricted theatres) and the same generic bars/spots with different names. The jogging track/sports court and mini golf are all tiny and seldom used. The main foyer and glass lifts are elegant but the ship lacks that as a whole. Below the top decks (There's only 10), it's generally rather quiet (outside main dining areas) with only decks 2 and 3 to wander with bars and a couple shops. (Decks 4-9 are staterooms). Overall, probably 5.5/10 for the ship.

    As far as the rooms go -
    We're on "Upper Deck" 5, a balcony room, number 5225. I've actually been really happy/impressed with the room as a whole. It's decently spacious for a mid range cruise cabin, with a fair size private balcony with deck chairs. The balcony is very child proof and secure enough with Ryland out there supervised, sturdy 1.2m glass from ground to banister. Beds are comfy, a small tv and good size bathroom. Our travel cot fits snugly by the fold out couch. Loads of space for clothes storage and luggage fits neatly under the bed. The weakness would be the shower.. which comes out as a trickle with an alternating acid or ice temperature, making for a thrilling and unpredictable experience. The room temperature/aircon set to minimum setting is pretty decent. The walls are magnetic and there's plenty of space for Rylands toys and hooks for hanging things. The other slight con is only 1 power point and no power boards allowed. Position of the room is fantastic, on a corner with only 1 neighbor (lifeboat other side) close enough to elevators but far enough to have no thoroughfare and we've had basically no noise pollution at all.
    Its not luxury, but for what it is, 8/10.
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  • Day8

    France in the South Pacific

    February 3 in New Caledonia ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    Our final port of call wouldn't be out of place in the South of France. Unlike our other stops so far, Noumea is a large Westernized city, one of the largest in the South Pacific.

    A swim free day today. Instead, a leisurely, family friendly rise on the Tchou Tchou train. This was what it sounds like - an open, slow moving train that would take us around the city and stop off at a couple lookout points. Ryland loved it, again his little brain took to absorbing the unfamiliar sights, smells and sounds all around him.

    The first lookout stop sat between the two days of the island, with a view of Duck Island, where Natalie (Hendrik) and I snorkelled some three years ago. We were treated to a glorious 32c day today, with mostly clear blue skies.

    From here, further through town and up the hillside for spectacular views overlooking Noumea. Ryland got some time to run around and stretch his legs here before we made the 40minute journey back. From the ship, we went on to catch a free shuttle into the city centre to explore on our own. This took us around Coconut Square (central gardens), some side streets, shops, supermarket and port side market place.

    We spent a couple hours enjoying our last free time on dry land, buying a couple small souvenirs and some crepes and cold drinks before heading back to the ship. I'd enjoyed learning about the Kagu bird of New Caledonia (on the Tchou Tchou Train) - a bird that forgot to fly over the years (due to no predators) and now uses its wings to climb trees.. and barks like a dog, so I bought a nice small painting of one. I can't help but think I'd much rather explore the rest of the island (the Grand Terre) rather than just wander the now familiar-ish streets and patterns of the largely Westernized city of Noumea. Grand Terre is actually a huge island, and from the ship, so much of it looks so wild/untouched and enticing.

    Showers, lunch and an afternoon nap set us up for our usual evening routine. Feeding Ryland in the buffet 5.30-6, then bathing him in his inflatable bath in the shower base, dusking, and getting him to sleep in his pram for dinner in the restaurant - "island theme" night tonight.

    There was a slight delay in the ship departing Noumea tonight, due to a passenger requiring medical attention and hospitalization on the island. I feel on track for that myself, really struggling with a cough/head-cold right now. It hasn't impacted my enjoyment of ports, but is really draining me.

    Three days at sea ahead still to enjoy, before we're home again in Melbourne.
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  • Day7

    Windy Beach Time

    February 2 in Vanuatu ⋅ 🌫 31 °C

    Another surprise addition to our itinerary was Mystery Island. A small, uninhabited island, just 1.5sq km in size, the most southern part of Vanuatu. It's uninhabited, allegedly, as the locals believe it to be haunted after dark. Instead, they travel from a larger neighboring island whenever a cruise ship is in town, to sell goods/tours/services to make a living.

    Everything happened at a snails pace this morning. My throat kills and kept me awake a lot but I'm hanging in there. Ryland slept in a little so we didn't get to breakfast until 9ish.. Everyone else was on the same schedule so there were delays getting tendered and we didn't set foot on Mystery Island til around 11am.

    Nat and I traveled here just under 3 years ago. That day it was two of us, first ashore on a still sunny morning. Today was a much different affair. You can walk around Mystery Island casually in about 45 minutes. In our circumstances, with our luggage and dual-towing little lordling around in his pram over sand-paths like overworked huskies, in strong winds, we may have met the evening spectres of local legend. It was also hard to find a tree without 4 people under it. Nat was quick to find the spiders though, I calmly noted a large white stowaway climbing down her dress. She was quick to ask him to disembark.

    You could easily call the location spider island. Every other tree has a giant network with tropical eight legged occupants the size of your hand. We eventually mushed our way around all the local salesmen and tour guides to a beach on the far side of the island, still packed, still very windy. Nonetheless we set up camp here under a palm tree to enjoy some family swimming. The water was perfect, though the winds made it very, very choppy and... full of seaweed, pulled up from the seabed.

    Ryland still loved his time here swimming with us in temperate turquoise waters. The weather remained windy and rotated from clouds, to sunshine, to some scattered showers which were actually warm and refreshing.

    I did take the opportunity to test out my snorkel here again for half hour or so, managing to reduce leakage. I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of fish I saw, just standing distance from the shore.. Angelfish, parrot fish, large white, and blue ones.. at least 20-30, from 15cm-1m in length. Way better viewing than Isle of Pines, much less quantity than Vila, but a few bigger ones.

    At this point, Nat had her fill with snorkeling and her burns, so we moved on to wander the market stalls on the island. I picked up a nice seashell that you can hear an echo within (sound of the sea). Ryland loved it as expected. I paid a couple dollars to hold some local lizards, which was fun. We tendered back relatively painlessly to be back aboard by 2.30pm, burn free!

    It was a low key afternoon, some lunch, a small snooze and a wander around decks. I was in awe of the larger vast island on our port side, named Aneityum (opposite Mystery Island) - sparse homes scattered the shore, but beyond, dense tropical jungle that stretched on for miles to the base of a looming mountain range. There was little to no signs of habitation beyond the shore, it looked almost untouched wilderness.

    Rylands late nap meant a few laps of the ship were required to get him to sleep. I decided I'd get some sleep after dinner to get up and watch Arsenal play live at midnight in the sports bar. Turns out it was a 1am kick off... and with the game goalless at half time at 1.50am right now (and FINISHED 0-0), I'm more than half regretting that decision. We're up at 8am tomorrow to do a tour on the Tchou Tchou train in Noumea.
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  • Day6

    Welcome to Vanuatu

    February 1 in Vanuatu ⋅ 🌧 31 °C

    Lush, vivid green jungle welcomed us from all sides as our ship rolled into Port Vila at around 8.30am. This would be a new location for all three of us!

    Vila is actually the capital of Vanuatu. The docking port itself is nothing remarkable, being largely industrial, for shipping/trading. After breakfast we rolled off the ship for our tour just after 9.

    Small group today, just the 5 of us to be transferred by shuttle to our semi-submarine tour. This was just another city where what seems like crazy driving to us, works for them. It's right side of the road driving, give way sometimes, check your phone while driving and use petrol stations as short cuts to overtake traffic.

    The "semi-submarine glass bottom boat" looked a bit alarming at first glimpse (now analyzing everything through a parents eyes.. - small motorboat with no secure railings). All would work out fine though, we'd have a fantastic time. Having the other 2 passengers (Hayley and Skye - friends in their mid 20s) helped a lot managing/juggling our bags and Ryland.

    Not unlike yesterday, a brief shower of rain belted down on us. This was well timed for us to head below deck into a lowered couch/seating area surrounded by windows for our personal moving aquarium. A great secure spot for Ryland. There was LOTS to see from this viewpoint.. coral formations, clown fish, angelfish, parrot fish, starfish and more! Junior loved it.

    After a half hour or so, we reached a spot to drop anchor and go snorkeling. Gear was provided today so we didn't need our own. The rain had just about eased off as I jumped in to snorkel. I was braced for a freeze, but that wasn't forthcoming. The turquoise waters were a pleasant 26c... just perfect.

    I spent half hour or so snorkeling around the boat, hand-feeding fish and having them swim all around me. Great viewing all round. Especially facing the boat I could see Ryland staring and giving me high fives through the glass. Before long, we switched turns and Nat snorkeled while I watched junior.

    When time was up we headed back to the port by boat and van. There was an extensive market set up here we could wander through. Nat and Ryland picked up some clothes. Local currency and a magnet was good enough for me. There were a few scattered local music performances here and just a chance to chat with some locals was nice. The weather has been so erratic. The sun seems to ignite the humid air into a BBQ when it appears, then sudden downpours bring some wind, soaking and refreshment.

    We spent most the late afternoon onboard, Ryland snoozing and us enjoying the temporary jungle backdrop to our balcony. By about 7.30 junior was out like a log in his pram allowing us to keep our perfect record of dining out at the major restaurant for dinner.

    I'm actually fighting off an illness now.. my throat is majorly inflamed and scratchy/uncomfortable. Maybe it's the onset of coronaviris and I'll soon crave human flesh, we'll see.

    Tomorrow we arrive at Mystery Island (Vanuatu) known for its beaches and turtles. Nothing booked here but beach-side, so we're happy today to have enjoyed such a great day with no additions to our burns.
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  • Day5

    Landfall and an Itinerary Change

    January 31 in New Caledonia ⋅ ⛅ 33 °C

    It was an eventful day that started at breakfast with a significant announcement - Our itinerary had changed.

    Our upcoming stops at Mare and Lifou were cancelled due to health precautions..

    A day or two ago, there was an announcement for anyone showing flu like or "coronavirus like" symptoms, especially anyone who had recently visited mainland China to report immediately to the medical centre..

    This leads to only one conclusion. Someone has contracted coronavirus, and began their transformation into a vicious, flesh craving zombie, and is currently held securely in a holding cell, deep in the bowels of the ship in top secret.

    Lifou and Mare aren't comfortable with this, so we're denied access to these places. Disappointing, given these were the two NEW ports for Nat and I, not yet visited. On the flip side, in lieu, we'll head to two other ports; tomorrow to Port Vila, and Sunday to Mystery Island, both in Vanuatu. So at least that's a second country for Ryland and one new Port for Nat and I.

    Ryland loved his visit to trip to Isle of Pines (starting 9am by tender). He was incredibly well behaved really. It was a difficult task though... We had to bring two backpacks, towels, snorkels and fins, a pram and have two hands on a wriggly youngster.
    Straight off the bat, he was more than happy to dish out high fives to the locals, putting on a traditional/tribal dance display.

    It was a hike to our swimming beach.. The pram struggled with sand and routes underfoot. We were initially greeted with a gentle rain, which cleared soon into a mostly sunny, warm day. We set up on the beach under the shade of a palm.

    Ryland LOVED the beach, he was all smiles and making a constant dash for the waves. He's a very hardly, open, resilient little fellow that takes well to new things. He spent a lot of time happy in his pram on the beach watching the world go by. Today wasn't easy though juggling everything. Junior actually got very cold very quickly in the water so we couldn't swim together. We took it in turns snorkeling but didn't see much.. I was especially frustrated by my snorkel leaking terribly despite trying to adjust it.

    Travelling with a young one, it's doable but not all round desirable. It's hard work, but rewarding. It's limiting but you do get those diamond in the rough moments that are so precious and probably better than moments you'd have as a couple. The look on his face on the beach today was priceless.

    There was a huge queue to catch the tenders/ lifeboats back to the ship around 2.30. By the time we boarded Ryland was absolutely cactus.. a minute after setting off, he'd fallen asleep in my arms, limp as a dead carrot.

    By the time we were back on board, an overdue lunch gave junior a second wind to take him through to a dinner and sleep time around 6pm. We counted the cost of some rookie sunscreen errors.. Nat forgot her back (or to ask me to do it) and I forgot my shoulders.. both scorched. Ryland was just a little sun-kissed about the face and belly.

    We decided to lock in a spontaneous semi-sub ride and snorkel for tomorrow's new destination in Port Vila ($69.95pp/ u3 free). Dinner was a breeze tonight with Ryland passed out in the cot by 6. Looking forward to something new tomorrow!

    ** In absence of a video on Isle of Pines I've attached one from Mystery Island with very culturally similar content.
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  • Day4

    Approaching New Caledonia

    January 30, Coral Sea ⋅ ☁️ 25 °C

    Steady sailing on glassy seas today. The weather's been pleasant without being warm. Sunshine and blue skies have been sporadic as it's constantly cloudy.
    Dejavu is setting in a little, today being much the same as yesterday. I'm looking forward to getting out onto dry last tomorrow and seeing Ryland set foot in a new country for the first time.

    We rolled into the dining room just before 9 this morning. Vanilla French toast and an omelette went down well. Ryland broke his fast on wheat bix, stewed apples and banana.. and bread.. he's had a lot of bread on this cruise and is adapting to cold milk.

    I'm trying to be fair and reserving too much judgement this early, but it must be said a lot of the overall service on this cruise has been dreadful... some staff have been friendly at times and nice to Ryland, but ordering, communication, regularity of service, general helpfulness and interest has often been really, really bad.. and I hate sounding harsh..

    We spent most of this morning in the arcade.. Ryland insisted.. he ran around in there for ages mashing buttons and admiring the lights. He insisted I win him a duck at the skill tester machines which I just about managed. By the time he'd run his little legs ragged he was ready for a nap by noon.

    Nat was first off to the adults retreat for a swim during nap time. My opportunity popped up later in the afternoon. Ryland scored himself a couple of soft toys today.. a ripped big eyed cow (20% off) and a sailor duck/pelican he'd been eyeballing since day one!

    He was a bit stroppy going down tonight, but he just about nodded off by dinner at the restaurant. We're all really looking forward to getting onto land tomorrow and swimming as a family. Poor Ryland has been desperately gesturing at the pool all cruise to no avail. Tomorrow will be his first steps overseas!
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  • Day3

    Family Cruising

    January 29, Tasman Sea ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    It's actually my tenth cruise. It's a lot different with a third wheel. Different is the perfect word. Its higher maintenance, less flexible, definitely less relaxing, but a lot of fun, rewarding and providing countless happy moments and cherished memories already.

    It's a social paradox. On the one hand, Ryland draws (and demands) attention wherever we go. It seems more than half passers by stop to comment on him, say hello etc. Staff all ask his name and try get a smile from him. On the other hand, we're never seated at a table with people or meet anyone properly or get to have a non-Ryland related conservation. Junior requires (and demands) a lot of focus and attention.

    There's a lot more routine. You can't really plan out the day, or do what you feel like when you feel like it. It's a lot of winging it.

    Our rough sea day routine is
    - Wake 7-8am
    - Breakfast in Dining room
    - Free Time 10-12.30 (nap time). Walk the decks, play some mini golf, get Ryland some exercise etc.
    - Nap time is free time for us, with the exception of one of us needing to be in the room while he sleeps. I mean we COULD nap him in the pram and try do something together as we do most dinners but it's a risk. Nat usually reads on the deck and these first two days I've gone to the gym.
    - Light lunch, we have to grab by 2.30 when most places close.... if junior is still asleep one of us will bring something to the room.
    - From 3-5pm more free time, maybe a cocktail. Today we rotated with swimming time, I went up to the adults retreat for h a of hour or so, then met Nat on deck and watched Ryland while Nat had a swim. It's so mean on Ryland, he's desperate to jump in the pool but not allowed.
    -5pm, feed Ryland in buffet.. get him back to the room... bath him in an inflatable pool in the shower, Pjs on, playtime, quiet time, tucked up in his pram. By 7.30, a walk around the decks gets junior asleep by 8pm for restaurant dinner for us!
    -Each night so far he's slept well through dinner and we've gone to the 9.30pm show... The last couple (hypnotist and rock pianist) we've managed to get through the entire show.

    Tonight, being "a formal night", was a special occasion. We drew out the afternoon with a swim, and dressed up Ryland to come to dinner with us. We were in early around 5.45... It all went relatively well, though Rylands dining etiquette could do with some refining... hand shoveling food in and out of his mouth. We managed well enough to get him through the 7.30pm pianist show and run around some shops before he started to turn tired and feral.

    We have another sea day ahead tomorrow, before four consecutive days around New Caledonia. Reluctantly we've opted to book excursions for MOST days as allegedly Mare and Lifou don't have many options available at disembarking spot. The good thing is that
    Babies 0-3 are free. Our plans are as follows -

    Stop 1 - Isle of Pines - Solo. Snorkel and swim
    Stop 2 - Mare - Transfer to nearest beach for swim and snorkel ($25pp)
    Stop 3 - Lifou Island - 35min bus ride to Islands best beach ($60pp)
    Stop 4 - Noumea - Tchou Tchou train (Family friendly) around town ($60pp).
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