'We just went on our first family cruise. Here's my honest review.'

We recently cruised for the first time. We love travelling together as a family and have caravanned (a lot) and holidayed at hotels, but this was a chance to try something a bit different.

And, if I’m being completely honest, we weren’t sure how it would stack up to our favourite travel experiences. 

We found a great travel and cruise expo deal on P&O’s newest offering, Pacific Adventure, on a short 4-day cruise. We wanted to ‘test the waters’ to see if we liked it, and this meant we weren't investing too much of our precious leave time (or money). And no, this holiday was not #gifted!

I got some great advice from other first timers prior to our cruise, and it was super handy. So, if you’re considering this for your family, here are my tips:

1. There's A LOT to do and it's overwhelming.

You’re going to be busy. There are pools, ball games, bingo, water slides (yes, water slides at sea - the kids LOVED these), onboard classes, a casino… I could go on. One thing’s for sure, we certainly weren’t bored.

Image: Supplied.


There are also kids’ clubs, which gave us time to try the adults only pool area. My kids don’t love going to these as a general rule (to be fair they’ve only tried a couple, and I know lots of other kids really like them), but the staff were lovely and they had lots of activities.

Image: Supplied.


There were so many things to do, we couldn’t do them all (I’m still bummed I didn’t get to the Day Spa), but we also laid on sunbeds by the pools and relaxed… a balanced approach.

2. The accommodation has its pros and cons.

Cruise cabins are not the biggest spaces… no surprise, really. Our cabin was definitely smaller than most hotel rooms (but with the same features and amenities), and at times felt a bit poky with the four of us in there. But we’re used to holidaying in a caravan, so it wasn’t an issue. And to be honest, with so much to do we didn’t really spend a lot of time in there.

We chose a balcony cabin, and this was a great decision for us as it gave a bit of extra space, some fresh air, and was nice to sit out on and look at the water.

Image: Supplied.


For us, an interior (with no view), or an outside cabin (with a view but not a balcony), wouldn’t be our choice, but these can be good value options.

3. The ease and value makes it worth it.

Hop aboard, unpack your bags and you’re done. No airport delays or lost luggage –  I’ve seen so many of those stories lately.

We loved the simplicity of it. We used P&O’s online portal at home to manage our booking, and onboard we used the app to check our daily schedule, so it was an easy sailing experience.


I think it’s also great value because you know what you’re getting upfront, with accommodation and meals included in the cruise price. Plus, if you’ve got the budget you can always take it up a notch with things like specialty dining, drinks packages and shore tours.

For us, I feel it was cheaper than flights for the four of us and hotel accommodation at a tourist destination. Just make sure to track any extra spending during the cruise, but really, you’re going to need spending money on any type of holiday.

4. Not having to cook (or source meals) was bliss.

As a busy, full-time working mum, sometimes I get SO sick of preparing meals (can you relate?), so one of the best things about cruising was not having to cook a single meal for four whole days.

We love eating out but don’t do it all that often (kids, cost of living… all the things), so this felt like a luxury.

Image: Supplied.


My kids, like many, can be fussy eaters at times, but the main dining restaurants all had kids menus, so we always found something they liked. The buffet was an easy pleaser, and the quick service places had pizza and burgers.

I’ll be honest, we over-indulged. But gosh was it good.

5. Don't skip the 'shore days'.

There’s so much to do on the ship, but make sure you also take advantage of port days.

Tangalooma on Moreton Island was our stop and we pre-booked a couple of shore tours – glass bottom kayaks and quad bikes – but still had plenty of time to swim and relax. It was bliss.

Some hot tips we learnt:

  • We saw some other cruisers split their time – they went over to the island for the morning and returned to the ship at lunchtime to have the pools, water slides and other activities mostly to themselves.
  • You do need to be organised with boat tenders if your ship stays anchored offshore. You get an allocated number and wait your turn, so be sure to allow enough time.

6. People are definitely divided on cruising as a holiday.

Pretty much everyone I know who has cruised before loves it, but there are also a lot of cruise critics. Social media comments seem full of people dissing it, but we didn’t let that put us off. 


Sure, it may not be the style of holiday that suits everyone, but ultimately my view is ‘you do you’. If you’re interested, then give it a go. Honestly, our 4 days were just perfect to try out cruising.

7. There may be seasickness.

You’re on the water so, naturally, seasickness is a possibility. Have some medication on hand just in case – we were fans of the pressure travel bands; they worked well for our kids!

If you’re like us, you’ll have sea legs once you’re off the ship. Our advice is to get out for a good walk on solid ground.

Image: Supplied.


8. Embrace the entertainment.

The daily cruise schedule, delivered to the cabin each day, was great because we’d go through it and plan ahead. It’s a wealth of information, so my advice is definitely read it so you know what’s going on.

Live gigs. Nightly shows. Cruise bingo. Comedians. Competitions and trivia. There were so many options, and the talent onboard was really good. Again, something we don’t do very often, so we really enjoyed this aspect of cruising.

Image: Supplied.


9. Don’t leave it until the last day.

With so much to do, the days flew by. Our last day was a bit hectic actually trying to squeeze everything in that we hadn’t yet got to. My hot tip here is to plan ahead early on, that way you’ll hopefully get to experience all the things you want to.

My verdict.

So, I guess the question is, would we cruise again?


It won’t completely replace the other types of travel we love to do, but it will definitely be another option as it was a fun family holiday that offered so much.

We’d probably change how we approached some things next time, but ultimately, we made some really great family memories. And, after all, that’s why we love to travel.

This holiday was paid for by the author of this post, who chose to review the experience independently. Her opinions are her own.

Feature Image: Supplied.

Can’t live without your phone or the internet? Take our survey now and you go in the running to win a $100 gift voucher!