I RUSHED up the stairs, calling out to my family. "Quick, we're going to miss it."
I wanted them to witness the official start of our 10-day cruise - a horn sounding as we pulled away from the dock and a dance party starting next to the pool. Ah, now we were cruising.
I had chosen a route through the Pacific, departing Brisbane with stops in Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Lifou, hoping to get a taste of island life.
I must admit as a first-time cruiser I had some trepidation about our holiday choice, unsure how the kids would cope and what we would do. But I need not have worried - cruising is my new favourite family holiday.
We didn't even make use of the great kids' club facilities, as there was so much to do and see on the boat. From watching movies in the pool, playing mini golf and shuffle board to joining in with the abundance of dance classes, singing events and pool deck games kept smiles on all of our faces.
I'm not sure if a ring toss to try and win a bottle of champagne or beer counts, but my eldest loved it. I was in heaven. No cooking or cleaning for 10 days. Instead I was sipping cocktails poolside, playing bingo and trying to win quizzes, all while pondering what I might eat for my next meal.
Yes, the food was excellent.
We rotated between the main dining room where you order meals and the serve-yourself buffet restaurant for dinners. We frequented a few different cafes for lunch and mostly took advantage of the buffet for breakfast.
And it didn't matter where we ate, the majority of the food was delicious.
We just mixed it up depending on what we felt like eating.
As a family with young kids the buffet offered a more relaxed experience and we were able to take our food wherever we pleased to consume.
The mix of sea and port days was great for giving the kids some up and down time. We stuck to sightseeing the main towns and visiting beaches, which offered us plenty of options. Seeking out quality coconut crab in Port Vila in Vanuatu was a must, as was a trip to their duty-free shops (cheapest of the cruise).
Trying local fare in Lifou dealt with my crepe cravings and allowed me to get to know a bit about the locals.
These ports were great eye-openers for the kids.
Seeing and experiencing different cultures was a great way to broaden their minds.
Actually, the whole cruise was a little the same.
They both grew in ways I hadn't expected over the course of the trip.
Seeing people of all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities join in the vast array of activities on board really motivated my five-year-old to take part in things he otherwise wouldn't have - and that is priceless.
So why not try a cruise for your next family holiday and let someone else do all of the hard work for you?