I couldn’t believe it, two people was less that half the price of a single person. I called Royal Caribbean to confirm that this was the price and yes it was correct. Single was closer to $10k but for two people it was just over $4,500. I asked if I could book for two people, and was told no you can’t you are travelling alone so you must book a single. This made no sense to me, so after I hung up, I went back online booked it for two, and paid half. I then went around my circle of friends to see if anybody was interested in a 3 week cruise leaving in a few days. But when you are in your 40’s there aren’t many people who can up and leave on such short notice (which I think is a terrible thing). The following weekend I was at Circular Quay and boarded the Explorer of the Seas. I honestly had no idea what this cruise would begin.
This was a fantastic cruise. We visited some of the South Pacific islands, (Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Fiji). I spent many sea days in the Schooner Bar, playing trivia, and chatting with other guests, and in the evenings I visited the casino. The cruise director staff were a terrific bunch of guys and gals, all working hard to keep us entertained on this cruise with around 2 weeks of sea days.
This cruise was kind of the opposite of the Allure. It was less a party and more a journey and a bit of adventure. This was the kind of cruising I enjoyed. This was something I wanted to do more of. I visited the Next Cruise office onboard to see if there were any other epic journeys that Royal Caribbean offered. It turns out that RCI doesn't do a lot of these types of journeys. From America they are predominantly 1 week Caribbean cruises. Europe definitely has more interesting journeys, but those long epic cruises, trans Pacific and Atlantic cruises are brackets surrounding main itineraries. But there was hope. The Mariner of the Seas was scheduled to do a massive journey Singapore to Miami via the Suez. The day it went on sale (mid cruise on the Explorer) I booked it.
So now I had my cruise for 2018 booked. My life plan was get to Seattle, fly back to Sydney, and get myself squared away. But that curveball of a wedding in Switzerland had been pitched, and I had to decide if I was going or not. Hell you only live once, I have never been to a wedding in Switzerland, so I confirmed my attendance. Now I was going to Europe for a few weeks, I thought I may as well add a cruise to my journey.
(You can see how things quickly began to spiral out of control). So I booked 2 weeks Mediterranean cruise on the Navigator. So that was it, fly to Europe, do the cruise, go to the wedding, and fly home. But no, there was one other curveball pitched, a day before the cruise finished, a certificate landed on my bed from the casino. I had won (earned) a free cruise. There was a rather limited list of cruises to choose from, mostly 4 nighters in the Caribbean, which didn't really appeal to me. But there was one cruise that appealed to me, 1 week on the Explorer, west coast Seattle to San Francisco. That looked like the winner, but what clinched the deal, it was the final cruise of the American season, before heading back to Australia. So I claimed my free cruise and booked the crossing back to Australia.
Bookings for 2017 now stood as 2 weeks in the Med, 1 week West Coast, and 3 weeks back to Australia. Then I could settle down and get my life back on track. But first I needed to leave Europe, and get to America for those cruises. A problem that I found the best solution was more cruises. Serenade of the Seas was going to do a trans-Atlantic arriving in Boston 2 weeks prior to the West Coast cruise. Perfect. Could it be better? Yes, yes it could. It was doing a Norwegian Fjord cruise prior to the crossing, just a couple of weeks after the wedding. So the bookings continued to mount up.
In the end it was just easier to fill in gaps with cruises, so I continued to add to my future bookings.
- 2 weeks between Serenade and Explorer - Liberty is doing a 1 week cruise out of Galveston.
- Getting to Singapore to join the Mariner, the Ovation was doing a 2 week cruise arriving same day as Mariner was due to leave.
- Radiance was doing a circumnavigation of Australia‽ I have to do that!
- The Voyager is in Australia‽ That's a ship I haven't been on.
- Mariner is getting me to America, I need to get home, back on Explorer it is.
- A couple of months between Mariner and Explorer, let's go crazy, Harmony, Grandeur, Majesty, Enchantment, and Adventure all booked. (August is a bit expensive, I'll take a month off).
and so on.. my plan for returning to Australia might have been a mess, but cruising was turning into something that I could easily find a place for, and there seemed to always be a gap and a chance to take another cruise.
And then it dawned on me, with all this cruising I would be close to Pinnacle, the top tier of the Crown and Anchor program, so I decided to make that an objective, a nice way to finalise my journey. Let's get to Pinnacle on my final cruise back home on the Explorer. It was then that whoever was the lovely staff member in the Next Cruise office pointed out, that I wouldn't get any of the benefits of being Pinnacle for that cruise. Doh! With this in mind, I added one more cruise to all my bookings. My life was now fully scheduled until November 2018, and I was now essentially a Royal Caribbean resident.