With her #cruisechallengeaccepted video racking up 54,000 views on Facebook in just two hours, Aussie comedian Celeste Barber's attempts to replicate the onboard cruise experience with Royal Caribbean International on land clearly resonates with Australian holidaymakers (as well as being hilarious). In the video, Celeste tries to recreate some of the exclusive activities and features on board Ovation of the Seas, such as RipCord by iFly, a meal at Jamie's Italian restaurant, the Flowrider surf simulator, and even the Bionic Bar, where cocktails are served by robots.
With cruising holidays more popular than ever Down Under, we chatted to Celeste to find out how she changed from cruise sceptic to cruising evangelist and what she's most looking forward to on a family cruise holiday with Royal Caribbean International.
Your #cruisechallengeaccepted campaign shoot looked like a lot of fun! We've heard you were a cruise sceptic – what's your thoughts on ocean cruising now?
I didn’t think that there would be enough for the family (or me) to do. I also thought it would be an expensive getaway option, which I’ve since realised isn’t true. The cost of all activities is included on a Royal Caribbean cruise, which is unreal. After completing #cruisechallengeaccepted and finding out more about cruising, I’ve realised that you have so many fun activities right at your fingertips. It’s safe to say that I’m keen to get on a cruise quick smart. I’d be happy to take a solo getaway but now that they know what you can do on board a Royal Caribbean ship, I don’t think my #hothusband or kids would forgive me if I left them behind.
You mentioned on the Today Show that the thought of being stuck on a cruise with your kids being bored scared you – how do you think you and your kids will like cruising?
I can’t imagine any of us ever getting bored! The boys are already listing all of the activities they want to do on board when we go on our family cruise next year. Also, you had me at free kids club!
Were you surprised at how many activities and facilities are available on a RCI cruise?
Totally, I can’t believe you can skydive and surf at sea! I love that you can be relaxing in the day spa one minute, and then checking out a stage show performance the next. Whatever thrills or chills you’re after, there’s something that will appeal to everyone. The dining options are out of this world, which surprised me.
What are your top tips on what to do on an ocean cruise for a newbie to cruising?
Have a go at everything! It’s about choosing the best cruise for you and your family members – I’d suggest getting the entire family involved in the planning process, and booking in a couple of key activities and shore excursions before you depart.
We hear you are going on Ovation of the Seas in March 2019 – what's your itinerary?
We’re off on a family cruise to New Zealand, and it couldn’t come soon enough. Sailing on Australia’s largest cruise ship is going to be awesome, and the kids are super pumped to get on board. Cruising through Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound and Dusky Sound is going to be spectacular. Our itinerary also includes Dunedin, Wellington, Napier, Tauranga, Auckland and the beautiful Bay of Islands.
What are you most looking forward to trying when you and your family go on Ovation of the Seas?
1. FlowRider – although, I’d probably rather watch my #hothusband surf the 40ft-long waves and with his top off!
2. Glow in the dark Laser Tag with my sons.
3. Shopping – no holiday is complete without some all-important retail therapy, and it is all GST-free on board!
4. Broadway show – followed by drinks at Bionic Bar with my #hothusband.
5. Jamie’s Italian by Jamie Oliver – I’d be in carb heaven!
6. Dinner at Wonderland – sounds very magical and mysterious, a bit like me…
How will you plan a cruise holiday with kids? What are your top tips?
Once you choose your itinerary and pick your room, the majority of your planning is done; no searching for hotels or coordinating transportation between destinations. I’m all about simplicity, so I l dig that you can set up your dining choices in advance, guaranteeing your table at times that best work with your schedule (or lack thereof). If you can’t take the grandparents or another family with you to help out with babysitting, utilise the free kids club. Every carer of a small person needs time out. Choose a cruise that has something to keep every family member entertained.
Why do you think a cruise holiday is ideal for families?
With loads of activities for the kids (and free kids club available), parents can have some well-deserved childfree time. You can also head to the onboard spa for some extra pampering. No cooking or cleaning are added bonuses. There is such a wide variety of activities on board that you can experience without ever having to leave the ship. There is also adventure for all levels, including rock-climbing, ice-skating, mini golf or simply lounging poolside (you know where to find me!).
What are your top tips for packing for an ocean cruise – what should you take and what should you leave at home?
Kaftans baby! Naturally, sunglasses and a glamorous sunhat are also important. I’ll be taking advantage of the laundry services on the ship so that I don’t need to pack too much of any one thing. A backpack and comfy shoes for shore excursions would come in handy, and don’t forget your all-important camera and phone. Apart from the essentials, I always take my headphones, Spanx and wet wipes.
Why do you think cruising is so popular with Aussies?
On a cruise, you can wake up in a different city—or even country—almost every day. And your petrol costs are covered! Cruising guarantees a great holiday for all ages. On board, there are kids clubs and activities, teen hangouts and adults-only pools (woohoo!). Dinner can be a family affair, or there are plenty of more romantic and intimate options for date night. Cruise fares include nearly everything you need for a great holiday—accommodation, food, entertainment and sailing you directly to each destination on your itinerary. You get all this often at a price well below what you would pay for similar experiences on land, or if you booked each part separately on your own.
For more info about Ovation of the Seas, check out The 48 Hour Destination: Cruise episode of Flight Centre's TV series, where Travel Expert and host Greer Gardiner experiences life on board RCI in just 48 hours.
All images: Royal Caribbean International