We’ve all had holidays where you spend so much time running around seeing the sights that you need another holiday when you get home.
Well, if you want to avoid that and you’re looking for a holiday that combines overseas travel, fun and relaxation, try a cruise.
I’ve been on three in the past four years so I can say with authority that cruising offers the best of both worlds and is great value for money.
But for those trying cruising for the first time, selecting the right company is vital.
If you’re young and like to party, a P&O cruise is for you.
Carnival Cruise Line is family-friendly, with many of its ships featuring water slides for little kids … and big kids.
Princess Cruises caters for a much older (think 60-plus) crowd. It can be lacking in nightlife but is great for on-board activities.
Another thing to consider is your cabin choice.
The cheapest fares can be found for interior cabins, which can accommodate between two and four people but have no natural light.
Ocean-view rooms include a window. The next step up is a balcony room, and for the ultimate in luxury, a mini-suite or suite is the way to go.
I recently tried a 12-night cruise around Fiji and New Caledonia on Dawn Princess, one of the fleet of Princess ships.
It left from Sydney’s White Bay and covered two New Caledonian ports, Noumea and Isle of Pines, and three Fijian stops: Dravuni Island, Port Denarau and Suva.
With 12 nights and five ports, there are a lot of “sea days”, giving you plenty of time to enjoy onboard life. The
Dawn Princess has a spa, gym, art gallery, sports court, duty-free boutiques, theatre, show lounge, outdoor screen for late-night movies, a casino, nightclub and bars galore.
My personal favourite was the Sanctuary, an adults-only area, and a small splash pool where you are waited on hand and foot by the attentive crew.
Dining options are numerous – from the buffet-style Horizon Court to pizza restaurant La Scala Pizzeria, the balcony grill and the formal Florentine and Venetian dining rooms.
There’s also an ice-cream bar, patisserie, afternoon tea and 24-hour room service.
One of the best parts of cruising? Everything is done for you. A cabin steward is assigned to your room from your first day and, apart from keeping your room clean and tidy, is always the best person to ask for advice or tips.
And every evening, your steward will leave a copy of the following day’s events in your room.
Activities include everything from Zumba classes to bingo, trivia quizzes, dance classes, table tennis tournaments, martini demonstrations and a nightly array of shows, dances and comedians.
Or if you just want to relax, there are sun- lounges galore to pop your feet on.
On land, there is just as much (or little) to do.
Trying to do each port justice is hard, but here are my top tips for the islands:
• For snorkelling, you can’t go past Dravuni Island. It’s surrounded by the Great Astrolabe Reef, the world’s fourth-largest barrier reef and teeming with a vast array of brightly coloured fish. Isle of Pines is also an excellent option for keen snorkellers.
• To walk off some of that excellent food, hike Dravuni Island’s highest peak, where you’ll be rewarded with great views of the surrounding islands. You’ll need sturdy shoes for this one; thongs won’t cut it.
• Port Denarau is full or resorts, restaurants and shops. For something different, head to the Sleeping Giant mountain where, for $65 per person, you can try out ziplining.
• Try an off-shore excursion to really experience Suva and Noumea.
You can cover most of both cities on foot in an hour, but fire-walking, traditional villages and aquariums await those willing to travel farther out.