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23 February 2011

An idyllic summer honeymoon location on the road less travelled

Hello, and welcome.
     You live in Canberra or nearby. You have a summer wedding here. You have a couple of days to honeymoon. Perhaps you have children already and a kind family member has said: ‘We’ll look after the kids for a couple of days while you go and have some special time to yourselves’. 
     What typically happens then? You don’t want a long drive – a couple of hours at most. You head for the coast. 
     Here’s another idea: How about heading for the mountains? 
     My husband David and I have just come back from two idyllic days at Lake Crackenback Resort, this side of Thredbo. 
It was our forty-first wedding anniversary. Last year David won a prize of two days at the Resort (bed and breakfast) plus a dinner for two, and we decided to take the prize on our anniversary. 
     My gift to him was three days with a Mini Cooper S from the Hertz Fun Collection, and it was exactly that. Fun! As a passenger I enjoyed the panoramic views you can only get from a car with large windows and narrow, almost vertical pillars. 
     We bushwalked, we picnicked (ordered the night before and collected at breakfast) and simply watched water birds. I luxuriated for two and a half hours in the Day Spa with a massage and facial by Elisa, while car and driver with fond memories of Minis took the multi-cornered Alpine Way to Thredbo and back. 
     We enjoyed our anniversary dinner at Cuisine on lake Crackenback, again with a glorious view over the lake. The friendly service we were given and the discreet fuss the staff made over us made for a great memory, more so than the food itself. We did appreciate the special desert creation from the kitchen to end our meal. 
     We had a large apartment with a balcony actually built out over the lake. We sat there several times, just taking in the peaceful beautiful view and watching the ducks doing what ducks do. The resort has been skilfully designed to give maximum privacy to each apartment, so you truly feel like you’re ‘away from it all’. 
     Each morning began with champagne and orange juice on our balcony. I needed to wrap myself in a blanket because I hadn't thought through what the temperature would be like at that altitude.

     If you choose to go to the Snowy Mountains in the summer, take warm clothes for the chilly nights. Our bedroom upstairs overlooking the lake had a very comfortable bed and snugly bedding. Like I said, a great place to honeymoon. 

     There was a small private wedding in the Heart Garden yesterday afternoon, after I returned from the mountains. The sun shone, the birds sang and the temperature was perfect. 
     If you would like me to officiate at your wedding, in my garden, or in another location, I'd be delighted to do so. Please feel free to phone me any day between 9am and 9pm on 02 6161 0718, or on my mobile 0406 376 375. Or email me. Click here, or fill in this email contact form.
     If you'd like to know more about the full service I provide, i will post you a package of information, along with a Notice of Intended Marriage (and no obligation to lodge it with me). Please note that there are Pages of extra information, top right of this blog.
Late February in the Heart Garden (more photos in slideshow)
    After such a wet spring, we've had a gentle summer with very few fiercely hot days. Tress have loved it and I think we're in for a magnificent autumn. If you marry this autumn, I wish you a glorious day.

Till next time

05 February 2011

A cruise would make a marvellous honeymoon

Hello and welcome
     Well, here it is February already and this is my first post for the new year. Life has normalised after the memorable 13 day cruise my husband David and I took in January from Auckland New Zealand to Sydney Australia.
It was love at first sight for me and the 'Diamond Princess'.
Here she is, ready and waiting for us in Auckland Harbour,
very early in the morning
     My Mum and my sister went on the cruise too. I would recommend cruising to everyone. Since your accommodation, travel, entertainment and all meals are paid for in your fare, it works out to be a very well-priced holiday. 
     There are programs for children and teenagers. If you take your family, you can be confident that they'll be well cared for and having heaps of fun, while you laze on the deck or on your balcony.
     I can only write about the Diamond Princess (I'm still in love with her) but I guess other luxury cruise ships offer much the same experience. Princess
With my Mum, Laurie, totally thrilled with our beautiful ship.
(Of course, you wouldn't have your Mum with you on your honeymoon!)
     A cruise would make a marvellous honeymoon. 

     Think about it – endless supply of excellent food, great wines, choice of beautiful restaurants every night, superb personal service. There’s even a full-time sommelier to help you choose the right wine to have with your dinner. Wake up at any time you want, go up to the 15th deck (imagine the views!) for a buffet breakfast from a huge array of choices, or sit on your private balcony and have breakfast brought to you. 
     Just like honeymooners, my husband and I had champagne and orange juice every morning – there’s a fridge in your room and each person can bring on board one bottle of wine from each port visited. Of course, you can buy champagne by the glass on the ship. 
     Since there's 24-hour dining, you can collect a delicious supper at any time of night and enjoy it on your balcony. I never actually got to having lunch – we were either ashore, or breakfast had been a banquet. 
     Lots of people dress for dinner but you can go casual if you wish. There were two formal nights on our cruise, when everyone appeared in their finery. One formal night there was a balloon-drop just before midnight and a big party in the 3-deck high atrium. 

David keeps a balloon in flight at the big balloon drop

You can have so much fun on a ship. 
     The activities never stop. You easily make new friends by sitting together at dinner. You can eat whatever you like - like not have to choose between the stir-fried prawn dish and the elegant steak dish. Just have both! (it took me a few days to realise this.) The ratio of passengers to staff is less than three to one. Service with a smile is endless.
     When you return to your cabin after dinner, your PJs are laid out beautifully on your bed, your curtains have been drawn and there are chocolates on your pillow. (My old Tshirt pyjama top looked embarrassing in such stylish circumstances so I bought a new one on the ship.)
Our delightful sommelier Petros
with my Mum on formal night
     The kingsize bed is large and comfortable, and it’s made for you every morning while you’re away from your stateroom. But if you wanted to stay in bed all day, Do Not Disturb, of course you could. And if your children accompnay you on your honeymoon, I'm confident there'd be lots of times they could join the extensive children's program while you had time to yourselves.
     With service to your room twice a day, you can have as many fresh towels as you like. (See the slideshow on the right for a photo of the clever way the hand towel and face cloths are presented.) Attention to detail is constant, and the ship is spotlessly clean.

Cruising through Milford Sound in
southernmost New Zealand
     When you go on a luxury cruise, most costs are covered in your fare before you go but you'll also need spending money on the ship. (It all goes on your credit card.) You buy drinks and speciality coffee. The tax-free shops are excellent. Lots of people buy lots of photos and there's a world-class art auction, only available to people cruising on a Princess ship at the time. (An original Picasso and Rembrandt were included in the auction on our ship and I was glad to have the chance just to look at these masterpieces up close.) 
     We had to pay a ‘compulsory gratuity’ every day but this will be dropped soon on the Princess ships that cruise Australian waters. The only time I had an issue with cost was for the internet. Very very slo-o-o-o-o-ow by satellite. And expensive. (But if you were on your honeymoon, you'd leave the internet at home, yes?)
     You can take part in activities, like going to the open-air theatre on the top deck, go to the gym, play virtual golf, go to a class, or see a show in the theatre, or just laze around beside one of the many pools. I took line-dancing classes and paid extra for a specialist class in Photoshop. I think if we cruise again I’ll spend more time simply lazing on a deckchair. 

Our first sight of the Bridge in the early morning light was literally breath-taking
     I loved being at one of the many perfect places for just watching the ocean, and we always enjoyed being on deck very early in the morning to watch the ship come into port. For Melbourne and Sydney this takes a couple of hours. Hobart is quick. From seventeen decks up, the views are truly splendid.  (I'm starting to run out of superlatives!) 
     A magic memory, as you would expect, is coming through Sydney Heads, though with all the inlets and curves in the shoreline, it was a bit hard to work out where the heads actually were. It was a thrill for all on board when we first saw the Harbour Bridge in the early morning light. 
Me in my favourite spa

     My favourite part of the ship was a warm spa at the stern (back) where I could sit and look at the ocean and the sky, whatever the weather or time of day (or evening). Even though there were over 2600 passengers, I often had the spa to myself. 

     One night my husband and I paid a surcharge of $20 each to go to Sabotini's, one of the two speciality restaurants. It had an Italian theme and was set up for romance, with soft lights, sweet music and discrete attentive service. Another night we had dinner for two delivered to our balcony. See what I mean about perfect for a honeymoon?

Update 5 December 2012: Because I love cruising so much, I took a cruise on the Volendam in January this year, up to tropical islands and back to Sydney, for 13 days. 
Adam and Janine married at home
on Saturday December 1 2012.
They plan a cruising honeymoon.
     On this ship, there's even an area for teenagers where adults are not allowed to go (except crew)! On Saturday 1 December, Janine and Adam married at their home in Banks, with lots of family and friends present. Soon they plan to honeymoon on a cruise ship. I'm sure their two children are going to love the special programs for their age-group while their parents enjoy being newlyweds.
          Much as I loved the Diamond Princess (and still do) it couldn't go everywhere the Volendam could. Small boats called 'tenders' hang on the side of the ship and when the ship anchors in a tropical lagoon, passengers and crew are taken to tiny tropical islands for the day - to swim, to sunbake, to snorkel, to buy local craft and eat local fruit. Wonderful!
     I actually went on this cruise alone (and attended 21 hours of seminars on writing and self-publishing). I made more new friends than when David and I went as a couple.
     I strongly recommend that if you choose to cruise, you pay the extra cost for a balcony. I really missed this luxury on the Volendam, and there was no fridge in my regular stateroom for champagne! (At every port, each person can bring on one bottle of wine for their own consumption.) I sure hope to cruise again sometime!
Here's to cruising! It's the best!
     If you'd like to contact me about your wedding, please feel free to phone or email. You'll see details to the right of this post under 'Let's Make Contact'. I'd love to be there for you as your celebrant on your most special day.

Cheers for now