Hooked on Cruising

Philip King loves cruise ship holidays.

So much so he’s lost count of how many he’s been on “but I think I’ve done about 25”.

The forty-something corporate executive explains he’s “always loved ships” and as a child loved going down to see the occasional cruise liner visiting Wellington in the 70s.

“When something like the QEII came in that would be a huge event and half of the city would turn up,” he says.

“There just seemed a romance about it, these massive ships going around the world.

“So I was hooked.”

He eventually “badgered” his parents into taking him on a cruise when he was a teenager and they went on a cruise around the Pacific.

“By today’s standards it was a very modest ship but we just thought it was fantastic at the time,” he says.

When asked though, he finds it hard to choose his best-ever cruise.

“It’s very situational, it can depend on the itinerary, the weather, the ship, the people…most of them have been fantastic but some of them stand out.”

One of those stand-outs was the Tahiti cruise on the five-star luxury small-ship ms-Paul Gauguin.

Paul Gauguin Watersports Marina

Paul Gauguin Watersports Marina

“It’s a specialist ship just built for the Tahitian lagoons, and it’s a nice intimate ship, only 300 passengers, 200 crew, it’s a high end ship so it’s got excellent service, “ he says.

“It’s got a water sports platform, and they spend two nights anchored in the Bora Bora lagoon and two nights in the Moorea lagoon. So you get up in the morning and there you are, there’s Bora Bora. At the start of the cruise you get issued with snorkelling gear for the whole duration, they take you to private islands and things. So it’s just the ultimate Tahitian experience, with great food.

“I really love this ship.”

Philip explains the best cruises for him are those “where you’re exploring a part of the world you haven’t been to before” and “there’s some form of on-board enrichment programme where you’re adding to your understanding of where you’re going”.

A good example of that for Philip was the four-week South America cruise he did on Celebrity Infinity.

“It was a big ship but they had excellent guest lecturers and choice of themes,” he says.

What he liked about this cruise was that he went to places he wouldn’t otherwise visit like the Falklands Islands.

Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

“My first impression was they’re much bigger than I thought, they’re half the size of of Wales, secondly they’re really flat and treeless, just windswept and cold. Port Stanley, the main town, is tiny really, but what made me chuckle is there’s a row of Coronation Street houses right by the jetty . It is a little bit of England. I spent a lot of time talking with the locals about the Argentinian occupation. Really they’re more British than the British.

“That was fascinating and I’d never get to the Falkland Islands otherwise.”

But his quest for exploring the world on luxury cruise ships isn’t just limited to exotic countries.

He has circumnavigated New Zealand twice and says the cruise is “really worth doing”.

“New Zealand is kind of like the Alaska off-season now,” he says.

Cruising from Sydney on the Diamond Princess, the ship stopped at Melbourne and Hobart before going into Fiordland, then around Dunedin, Akaroa, Wellington, Tauranga and up to Auckland.

He thinks the familiarity of being a New Zealander did not stop him enjoying the trip.

“It looks different from the sea than the land and it’s amazing after two days at sea, getting up on the third morning and there’s the whole of the South Island silhouetted as you’re approaching Milford Sound…it was just gorgeous. And some of the fiords we went into that day you’d never get to otherwise. There’s no boat trips there. We’re seeing places New Zealanders never get to see.”

Diamond Princess in Milford Sound

Diamond Princess in Milford Sound

Philip has two cruises to look forward to this year.

In July he is going on a Sun Princess cruise out of Japan which is a departure from the norm for the ship, normally based in Australia.

From April through to July, she will sail a total of nine, nine to 12-day cruises on seven different itineraries from both Yokohama and Kobe.

“I got a note from Princess saying this is mainly orientated towards Japanese customers and they said all the onboard announcements will be in Japanese but with English translations and all the food will be Japanese,” he explains.

“I actually thought that will make it really interesting.”

The second of his trips comes later in December this year on a 12-day Silversea one-way cruise from Cape Town to Mauritius.

He says apart from the difficulty of getting a cheap flight to South Africa at that time of year, he’s really excited about going on the Silver Wind.

“It’s a really high quality cruise liner and it’s going to a part of the world I haven’t been to before,” he explains.

“And what I like about Silversea is, because I’m single normally I have to pay a 100 per cent supplement fare for a single cabin but Silversea only charge 50 per cent for a single cabin so even though they’re a really expensive cruise liner it’s actually not much dearer than going on an average cruise liner.”

Talking to Philip is probably a bit like talking to a travel agent but with the added bonus he’s not trying to sell you something.

And as he put it:

“I always say to people, before you book a cruise, talk to me.”

Next instalment: Philip’s do’s and don’ts on cruising


Thanks to Rachel Sturges for the article.


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