I mean first up, can we just take a moment to let it sink in (no pun intended!) that we just spent my birthday week on a 15 deck Royal Caribbean cruise liner for 4 days! BUT I have been hesitating to write this blog, because the #MMBirthdayCruisers went into serious depression & withdrawal the moment we stepped off that mammoth ship! I cannot begin to tell you what an AWESOME time we had on board and so like always, I shall let the pictures, boomerangs, slow-motion videos and vlogs do the talking and show you just how to have the most legen-WAIT FOR IT-dary birthday cruise ever. ALL ABOARD!
PS. Mad props to Parul Kakad for making me my very own GoPro after movie, coming soon. Yay!!!
Step 1. Select A Cruise…
I really believe in signs. So imagine this; somewhere in February I was simply toying with the idea of suggesting a birthday cruise to my friends for my big 4-0 and the next thing I know, an invitation from TIRUN Travel Marketing to review a Royal Caribbean cruise liner lands in my inbox, completely out of the blue!
Now if that isn’t a sign that the universe is totally “on board” with the idea of us cruising into the blue for my birthday, then I don’t know what is! In fact, for the next several weeks, everyone who signed up to come, kept seeing signs everywhere. Like front page ads in the newspaper, SMS alerts for cruise vacays, invites to the Ab Celestial floating hotel in Bandra reclamation and even an invitation to go sailing with Wander Monkey – which really got us in the mood!
PS. You can find your desired cruises on their website www.tirun.com, searching by destination, category of ship, travel dates, number of days, prices and more. We selected the Voyager of the Seas based on the dates closest to my birthday and because we wanted to hit up Penang & Phuket on the way, plus Singapore seemed like a decently close-ish enough destination to fly out from AND we got a bonus two nights there, where we managed sunset drinks at Marina Bay Sands, a trip to Universal Studios Singapore in Resorts World Sentosa (read my blog about it here!) + a party bus (YAAAY! thank you Arshiya!)
Oh and I did my homework on all the cruise myths you tend to hear – from safety to stability and yes of course I blogged that too.
Step 2. Make A Whatsapp Group!
I mean that’s obvious isn’t it?! How else do you tell all your friends your genius plans at the same time and get an immediate flurry of responses ranging from sane to snarky? To his credit, Nowshad sent out the best whatsapp message ever and recruited what would turn out to be the most legendary gang of birthday cruisers I could ever have dreamed of…
The Whatsapp group (which we have chosen never to retire) had some epic moments of its own, plus a flood of pictures from the cruise that you’ll see being scattered all over everyone’s social media for weeks to come. Mostly it was the best way to know at any given time who was eating at Windjammer Cafe Lido Buffet, who was on deck 11 getting drinks by the pool, who was making millions in the casino and who had discovered the nightclub called High Notes which had an amazing Bollywood DJ! (Excerpts below, but you get the idea!)
And I won’t lie, we haven’t been able to get past it yet! We keep messaging each other on the group still hoping we’ll wake up back on the cruise somehow! (The messages below are from two days after we got back to Bombay. LOL)
Step 3. Get The Invite Right!
One of my besties (aka piece-of-my-heart) Huzaifa Lightwalla and his awesome design team, at www.s7designs.net made me the most adorable and slick invitations ever! (In fact they even designed the packaging for my LIVitup goody bag merch.) Look and scroll right!
Thank you Huzie and Studio 7 Design & Advertising! They even made me a surprise memory game with birthday messages from all my friends and family which was the most awesome #geekchic gift ever! xoxo
Step 4. Make A Survival Kit!
Now if you know me a little by now, you probably know that I’m a bit of a goody bag junkie. Right from my domestically challenged desi bride survival kits back in 2012 to now. So I had heaps of fun putting this one together for my cruisers. (Scroll right to see all the goodies inside and [email protected] for bagging this prize!)
My friends Sanskruti and Mike came up with the most beautiful birthday surprise gift for me by gifting all the cruisers some gorgeous jewelry from www.inoxjewelry.in! Check out the gorgeous bling bling I got! Anchor appropriate no? 🙂
One extra special shoutout goes to the good people at LIVitup (that’s you Arjun Vaidya!) for THIS.
If you haven’t tried this awesome hangover shield yet, you are probably suffering through countless – and entirely unnecessary hangovers. TRUST me and give this a whirl the next time you’re planning a big night out and wake up like it never happened! (And by that I mean the destruction of all the bad choices you probably made at the bar the night before.) Get yours here: www.drvaidyas.com use the code KINGOFCLUBS for the King’s discount and enjoy. You’re welcome 🙂
Step 5. Pick Your Wardobe!
I mean how often do you get to break out your very own “cruise collection”?
We had a blast doing an entire photoshoot for mine here. Check it out!
Step 6. Gather The Troops!
The fact that SO many people took time off work (leaving even their children behind!) to be part of my week-long birthday shenanigans, will stay with me forever.
Also can I just say; it will now be forever impossible to travel anywhere without you guys, the legendary #MMBirthdayCruisers (even though it took Parul trapping us all in a conference room to get ONE entire group photo together! LOL.)
But I have to give a big fat mushy shoutout to Nowshad, Parul, Hiren, Huzaifa, Chetan, Rij, Arshiya, Aaliya, Suved, Kaizad, Ami, Reshma, Tina, Mike, Sanskruti, Nitin, Suj, Kruppa, Shalini, Rashmi, Deepak & Katya for giving me the most extraordinary birthday EVER! I love you guys 🙂 <3
Step 7. Get The Unlimited Drinks Package!
Well at least that’s what I recommend if you’re going to have a week long smasher like we did. With Bloody Mary’s for breakfast and Jägerbombs at night! But seriously, it is very easy to become accustomed to the “Sea Pass” life!
Once you’re paid up, everything you do on the ship is done by Sea Pass and it is SUPER convenient. From borrowing towels by the pool (be warned: return them or face a $25 fine) to buying casino chips, you can put your wallet and credit cards away till the day you disembark (check your charges at the end though). The Sea Pass was definitely one of our favourite things. Pity it doesn’t work anywhere in Mumbai… YET!
Step 8. Get A Stateroom, With A Balcony.
I mean how else are you going to wake up to the sounds and fresh air of the Malacca Straight coming from your very own balcony?! (Try to book all your buddies on the same floor, it helps immensely when trying to locate your room after the afterparty on Deck 11. Trust me.)
Please be prepared for a little animal invasion in your rooms after turn down service because the Royal Caribbean crew it seems, are masters of towel art!
Step 9. Strike A Pose. Just Get To It…
I mean how else will anyone on Instagram actually believe you actually did this?!
I mean we were just so happy we were striking poses pretty much everywhere. Elevators & bathrooms included!
The cruise is massive and actually filled with daily activities, shows, parties and entertainment and the cruise compass is your trusted companion for the ride.
There’s literally a half-hourly break up of activities from dawn till… well – dawn! So the best thing is to grab a “cruise compass” the minute you board and figure out the shows you want to see because those tend to have specific timings and may require you to pick up passes in advance.
(We found this only to apply to the ice-skating show the first night, the rest were just free-seating and you could enter at will.)
Step 11. Clean Up!
Honestly, when else are you going to get all the crazies in your crew to dress their Sunday best and pose for endless pictures with you? The answer is never. Unless its your birthday and they’re trapped on a cruise with you for four days and… ok mostly because its your birthday! (Thank you Gaurav Gupta I am forever in love with this dress!)
Step 12. Get On Broadway!
Every evening you could go and catch a broadway show of sorts at the on board theatre La Scala.
From popular stage musicals to music through cinema and even these three spunky Aussie Boys who took their shirts off!
(But can somebody PLEASE tell the rest of the world that no one runs around singing Jai Ho in India while doing some kind of Aladdin-meets-turn-the-lightbulb dance?!) On the upside, there’s a bar in the back and they take Sea Passes 😛
Step 13. Do It Your Way!
When you have a stage set up in front of you, why not get your hands on the mic and 15 minutes of karaoke fame?! This was one of my favourite things aboard the cruise. Karaoke night! And just check out some of the champs who sang for team cruisers! (And we finally got to be shoobab girls Arshiya lol!)
But look out for this teenage prodigy from Magalore who slays and try not to sing right after him!
Step 14. Ocean’s 23!
To top it all there was even a casino on board and I tried (and failed) at a couple of rounds of Black Jack but it was soooper fun.
I’m going to go ahead and admit right now that we proceeded to then play a very loud game of antakshari in the casino till they shut it (or rather us) down. LOL. Nobody caught that on video, really?! (We got the dealer to play along for this picture though LOL!)
Step 15. Shore Excursions.
Our cruise docked at both Penang and Phuket and the boat ride over was breezy and fun!
Also an excellent way to get THIS picture of our own ship!
Penang was Nowshad’s foodie haven, he recommends eating the Asam Laksa and Curry Mee!
And don’t be alarmed by the giant squid hanging around in the market!
Meanwhile some of us decided to stick to a liquid diet aboard chez cruise and talk about life and puppies!
Phuket was a bit rainy and we couldn’t find a beach shack to chill at, so we did the next best thing….
Foot massages for everyone!
Step 16. Go For Gold!
Believe it or not the cruise also offers rock climbing, mini golf, a wave rider and a basketball court!
So my sister channeled back all her State level b-ball skills and bagged gold while we were watching the Madagascar parade! #Baller
Step 17. Make Friends With Oscar!
And believe you me, Oscar will be your friend. Probably best friend at some point on this cruise. Also he knows where they keep all the Redbull! Props to Galdwyn Fernandes at High Notes as well. Excellent bar crew & Bloody Mary’s all around!
Step 18. End On A High Note!
Our parties took off from the casino bar to their nightclub on deck 14 in pretty much record time…
The first night we walked in to the sweet sounds of Bollywood blasting and I knew I would love this cruise forever!
Step 19: Birthday Bonus!
I even had the added glitter of being the birthday girl and getting all kinds of surprises!
Step 20: BFF Bonus!
Now if its your birthday and your best friend’s name is Parul you’re going to have the kind of after parties only legends are made of.
Imagine 4am pool parties with this view every single day & night. Bam.
So what can I say… It was a trip of a lifetime and I’ll be honest with you, the crew is just as important as the cruise. If not more so. I’m all emo about my #MMBirthdayCruisers now and can’t thank you guys enough for all these memories. What a way to hit a milestone birthday!
Annnddd Happy Birthday To Me!
(Yup, the crew has mad Bollywood drama skills too it appears…)
Sooooo…. now where are we going next crew-sers?!
I Vote We Go Check Out The Nothern Lights! Who’s in? I saw a sign…