Carnival Luminosa Cruise Review: Shelly Horton writes about her first cruise | Exclusive

Cruises are the coriander of the tourism industry. Either you love it or you hate it.

I was afraid I would fall into the latter category.

So when I was invited to ride on Carnival Luminosa, it was a mixture of excitement and trepidation, because while I’ve always wanted to try a cruise, I just wasn’t sure what to expect.

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Carnival Luminosa
I was invited to ride on the Carnival Luminosa. (included)

For me, cruises are either full of oldies who have trouble getting around and who therefore revel in the ease and accessibility of a cruise, or families full of screaming children who find equal solace in kids’ clubs, pools and the freedom to run amok to let.

However, when presented with buffets, shows and activities galore on board, I heard the words of wisdom, “Just join us” ring in my ears – and I leaned in.

Being cruise ship virgins meant the first few hours were trial and error until we found our rhythm.

We boarded in Brisbane, a new port for Australia, and before we even left, my husband Darren and I went straight to the buffet, in our first rookie mistake of the trip.

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shelly horton carnival luminosa cruise
I was a cruise virgin. (included)

We quickly learned that cruise ship dining is much more than gorging on the buffet, quite the opposite.

Carnival Cruises has a number of fine dining restaurants, including Fahrenheit 555, which is where we had dinner the first night.

They had incredible dishes like iced smoked oysters and a chocolate dessert art where the chef actually comes and creates them at the table. It was fantastic!

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shelly horton cruise
Dining on cruise ships is much more than stuffing yourself at the buffet. (included)

Our next foodie win came the next day when we stumbled across the Mexican station, which was filled with fresh groceries, freshly made tacos, and delicious burritos — it was officially the nail in our buffet coffin.

Everyone can eat in the main dining room Vella. Vella is included but not a buffet but a beautifully decorated restaurant with white tablecloths and singing waiters. So much fun.

When it comes to onboard activities, you really are spoiled for choice.

My advice is try to do all the extracurricular activities – really immerse yourself in the cruise – just make sure you have some extra cash in your budget so you have the opportunity to do some of the more exciting extras.

We did a pasta class, I’ve never made fresh pasta before, and to my surprise it was incredibly enjoyable, not to mention how incredibly delicious it was to eat what we made – I think it is Equivalent to eating your homework.

Once I got fully into it and my motto had become “just join in”, I went into full travel mode. On the second day, I drank ’90s Toblerone cocktails and saved turtle after turtle with edible candy straws – my eco-friendly and diabetic dream came true.

shelly horton carnival luminosa cruise
I’ve been drinking ’90s Toblerone cocktails. (included)

Entertainment is another big aspect of the cruise so of course we went along to see what shows were on offer.

We saw cabaret performances that featured six talented people on stage and we even went to a comedy show. While sex, drugs, and vaginas are my sense of humor, I’m not sure my fellow travelers would be all that comfortable with a routine that was rough and belonged in the ’80s.

This virgin cruise snob ended up loving it. Actually I want to do more.

Now don’t get me wrong, the food, drinks and entertainment are fabulous, but there’s also a lot to be said for how relaxing cruising is.

shelly horton carnival luminosa cruise
There’s a lot to be said for how relaxing cruising is. (included)

On board it was so easy to take time out, enjoy some of the quiet spots around the ship to read your book or listen to your audio book. Darren and I disappeared a couple of times just to chat privately and have a drink.

I had a massage which was lovely. While they stayed true to most vacations, be it on a cruise, in a hotel, or in a tourist spot, they were overpriced. Also, the moments after a massage are all too often ruined by upselling. As you stand in your post-massage trance, they hustle products and additional treatments at you in a very “want fries with that?” Way.

We also did a day trip in Cairns and I’ve been to Cairns 3 times this year so I thought I’d seen it all but again – I leaned in.

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shelly horton carnival luminosa cruise
We also did a day trip in Cairns. (included)

We were lucky enough to be picked up in a stretch Hummer thanks to the PR team, and while I wasn’t allowed to go through the drive-thru bottle shop for French champagne and had to drink XXXX beer instead, I added a bit of lemonade to mine XXXX, and made a shandy like my grandma used to drink.

We drove to the Crystal Cascades where you could swim in the fresh water and luckily it was too cold for crocodiles. I would say having this bath was absolutely a highlight of the week.

So there you have it. This virgin cruise snob ended up loving it. Actually I want to do more. The fact that you only have to unpack once is a big selling point for me.

Next time Darren and I are hoping to cruise around the Caribbean or even somewhere off the coast of Norway through the fjords.

But as I said, no matter what cruise you take – lean in. Do the extras. And enjoy it!

The writer was a guest Carnival Cruise Line.

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