When I found out I would be getting a week off work to go to the Melbourne Cup with P&O Cruises last November, I saw a teeny tiny opening to win Best Daughter of the Year by inviting my mum to come along.
And by God, I took it.
But mum wasn’t my first plus one choice. She knew it, I knew it, it was fine. I think it was fine. Sorry, I know that comes across as quite brutal, but who else other than your mum would take a week’s annual leave just before Christmas for you? No one, that’s who.
“Guess what, I’m going on a cruise to the Melbourne Cup and I want you to come with me!” I told her over the phone once I realised none of the three friends I’d asked first could make it.
“Oh” was her response. Oh.
After I explained again that she and I would be taking an actual cruise to the Melbourne Cup, she perked right up, and our conversations over the following month consisted of questions about what dresses we would wear, if we could pull off fascinators, and if I’d need to pack a jacket for Cup Day (typical mum, her answer was, of course, yes).
Soon enough the departure day arrived. Prior to going on the Pacific Explorer, mum and I had never travelled together just the two of us. I was nervous – how would we go stuck in a twin room with only each other’s company for a week? Would we get sick of each other? Would we fight? Would there be… awkward silences?
But I needn’t have worried, because when our six-night adventure with P&O started with the Uber driver asking us, two people not from Sydney, where to go to get to the ship, we knew our trip was going to be… eventful.
Finding our way around the ship.
After we made it on board with literally seconds to spare – for anyone going on a cruise in the near future, do not be late, the ship will legitimately sail away without you – our first task was to find our way to our cabin.
What followed was a five minute walk down a simple corridor, that did not feel at all simple, and like it went for hours. Because the ship’s corridor was so long (260 metres long to be precise), it really felt like we were in an Inception-style vortex that would never end. It would’ve been comical if not for the whole thing where we rocked up to the ship’s customs desk right before they were about to close, hence missing our tour of the ship.
Finally we made it to our cabin – a twin room on the ship’s 14th floor, complete with a balcony and an uninterrupted ocean view. It was small but big enough for the two of us, and we also quickly learnt it was the least interesting thing on the whole ship. Staircases with gold banisters wound their way down 11 decks, leading to theatres, lounges, cafes, restaurants, bars, spas and shops – I felt like Rose on the Titanic, except for the repressed by a controlling partner and clinging to life in the ocean parts.
And yes, I heard Titanic referenced approximately 53 times while on board the Pacific Explorer. It was never funny.