While many travellers who love a good book pack a kindle or tablet for reading on the go, there are still plenty of us who enjoy visiting a cruise ship library. While onboard Crystal Symphony, my cruise buddy and I both checked out copies of Ian McEwan's latest novel, Nutshell, for our own private book-club discussions; the library is a pleasant, airy space where you can also make reservations for onboard shows and have a chat with the well-informed library manager.
You can often borrow old-fashioned board games such as Cluedo, Monopoly and Scrabble at a ship's library – it's surprising how often you'll spot modern families actually playing them together these days.
Traditional-style cruise-ship libraries I have visited over the years and have a big soft spot for include Regent Seven Seas Explorer's, for its gorgeous leather-tiled floor (keeps the noise down) and comfy green leather chairs; those onboard R-class ships Azamara Journey, Azamara Quest and Oceania Insignia, for their glorious painted tropical-jungle ceilings; Royal Clipper's, for its gleaming wood panelling, leather chesterfields and nautical memorabilia; and Queen Mary 2, for its sheer size and grandeur.
Other favourites include the more contemporary book collections on Viking's ocean-going ships, where books are scattered informally around the Living Room and other areas; and Celebrity Solstice's two-deck high circular library that is an integral part of the towering atrium.
As pop-up street libraries are becoming a thing in our communities, perhaps cruisers could get them going on ships that don't have formal libraries anymore?
Celebrate Christmas with ecruising's 12-night New Zealand Holiday Cruise onboard the award-winning, 2850-passenger Celebrity Solstice. Departing Sydney on December 23, the ship will be decked out with all the festive trimmings and a traditional lunch and dinner will be served. Highlights include calls to Napier and Wellington on the North Island, and French- flavoured Akaroa and Fiordland's Doubtful, Dusky and Milford sounds on the South Island. Ring in the new year at sea on the return journey to Sydney, which includes a day in Newcastle. Fares from $3199. See www.ecruising.travel
SAILING TO CAMBODIA
Among several new ports of call for Star Clippers' tall ships next year are Cambodia's unspoilt island of Koh Rong and the vibrant coastal city of Sihanouvkville, included on 10 and 11-night round trips from Thailand's Ko Samui. Two-day land extensions to Siem Reap for the temples of Angkor Wat can be added to the cruise. The 170-passenger Star Clipper will also return to Borneo, sailing between Singapore and Kota Kinabalu, to explore the rainforests of Sarawak and the abundant wildlife in Sabah in Malaysian Borneo. See www.starclippers.com/au
GIN, FOOD AND HISTORY
Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) is introducing three themed cruises this summer for Vasco da Gama's first season Down Under. The five-night Sydney to Adelaide Military History Cruise, departing December 1, will feature onboard and onshore events hosted by military historians and experts; January's seven-night Boutique Gin and Culinary cruise from Adelaide to Fremantle showcases Australian gins, guest chefs and local produce from WA and SA; and a one-night event in Fremantle on February 1 will host performances from Perth's Fringe World Festival. See www.cmvaustralia.com
Which world-famous cruise line has kennels for dogs and cats onboard its trans-Atlantic liner Queen Mary 2? Last week's answer: Ovation of the Seas
Decked out in a rose-and-lilac-hued botanical print, Victorinox's enduringly popular SwissCard just received a facelift. The compact multi-tasker comes with 10 functions including a nail file, scissors, tweezers, ballpoint pen and letter opener. It houses all your grooming and office necessities in a credit-card-sized frame. Pop it in your wallet wherever you're headed. RRP $99.95. See www.victorinox.com
ROBERT & EVIE GAREB, NORTH BONDI, NSW
NUMBER OF CRUISES TAKEN 89
LAST CRUISE Two back-to-back, seven-night cruises on Celebrity Edge in Europe. Celebrity Edge is the latest Celebrity ship and has many new features, including the Magic Carpet. We booked this with ecruising.travel just after Celebrity started building it. We travelled with two other couples from Sydney and enjoyed it so much we have booked the same ship for a Greek Islands cruise next year.
NEXT CRUISE Sydney to Tasmania on Majestic Princess. It's the first of three cruises on this ship, which we haven't sailed on before.
DREAM SHIP Difficult question. We have cruised on the 6400-passenger Harmony of the Seas – at the time the biggest in the world – down (in size) to Ponant's Le Lapérouse, which carries 184 passengers. The bigger ships have bigger and more spectacular shows, while the smaller ships are more of a luxury. My preference is Harmony of the Seas, because of all the activities and entertainment. Evie's is Celebrity Edge.
DREAM CRUISE Sailing around the Greek Islands – so we have booked it!
DREAM PORT Sydney is spectacular, both arriving on a beautiful summer morning and departing in the evening. However, I'd still like to sail into Venice on a small ship.
BEST CRUISE TIP Always check the daily newsletter that's delivered to your cabin each evening for details of the next day's activities. Take a highlighter pen and mark off everything you want to do so you won't miss anything.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CRUISE
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