CRUISING: Experience the ultimate in spa paradise at sea
HAVING a full body massage in a candle-lit room with soft music in the background is always going to be bliss.
A rejuvenating facial after the massage is double the indulgence.
Now add another level of spa heaven: the gentle rolling of a mighty big ship beneath you.
Welcome to the world of spa paradise at sea.
Most of today's ships have elegant spas where groomed staff gently usher you in for everything from Botox to pedicures.
The Lotus Spa on board P&O's Emerald Princess has daily specials as well as an extensive spa menu and free seminars every day to inform you about everything health-connected - from looking after your liver (difficult with so many bars on board), to information on non-surgical face-lifts, to relieving back pain, and walking in comfort.
It's all about choices on board - and sometimes the spa is the best place to head to if trying to keep up with many activities becomes too much.
We love balance on a cruise: a bit of everything, a lot of spa time, and something new to experience.
A chocolate and wine tasting at Emerald Princess' Vines Bar saw us sitting at a Stammtisch (German word for sharing table) matching three different wines with exquisite chocolates by renowned chocolatier Norman Love.
Who would have thought a glass of pink French wine would match so perfectly with a white chocolate raspberry?
Tastings can also be conducted with tapas or sushi if you tooth is not sweet.
It is all about learning, enjoying, and forming new friendships around the Stammtisch.
An important part of a cruise is to try something new every day and, as P&O's slogan goes, to come back new.
Certainly we had never sat on a ship's deck before watching a movie on a giant screen while the ocean swelled and moved around us.
We had not joined in a Zumba class either.
Nor had we ever played poker before, and even though that was available every day and evening in the casino, we left that one to other more adventurous passengers.
We also left the pool games to others too although we very much liked stretching out on the deck-chairs licking ice-cream and watching the fun.
Although relaxing in elegant bars is not new to us, doing it at sea with the awesome ocean on view through windows, certainly is.
The Adagio Bar with its comfortable lounges and stylish accessories quickly became a favourite, until we discovered the martini-shaking crew at Crooner's Bar.
At the Salty Dog, it was beer and bangers and mash in an English pub atmosphere, a new experience after many a lunch and dinner in the Botticelli Dining Room.
A range of speciality restaurants (extra charge incurs) includes SHARE by Curtis Stone, the celebrated chef's first restaurant at sea.
Entertainment is paramount on a cruise and exclusive performances of Stephen Schwartz's Broadway-style production, Magic to Do, is wowing guests.
A child-free Sanctuary retreat, duty free shops, seven bars and lounges, four swimming pools and seven whirlpool spas, and a fitness centre, means there is never a moment when you are lost for something to do.
Our week-long cruise took us from New Zealand, through the scenic Fiordland National Park, on to Hobart and back to Sydney.
Seven days being pampered and cossetted and fed and watered and entertained felt like a month-long holiday. Which is after all, the purpose of a cruise.