36 hours on the big Golden Princess from Sydney to Melbourne: genius or simply silly?

OK, SO cruising isn’t for everyone. There are lovers and loathers.

But if it is something you have been tempted to try but worry about potentially being ‘stuck’ on a ship for 10 days, the two-day cruise I’ve just disembarked from gives you a perfect taste of cruise life.

Whether you are ‘Rousey’ and his mates (all in matching embroidered T-shirts and on board celebrating his 40th); a family of six doing a trip back home to Melbourne from a visit to Sydney, gentle retired couples, a gang of race-going mates, a gaggle of girlfriends, or someone like me, who is heading to the Spring Racing Carnival, the journey between Sydney and Melbourne was never more, well, different.

During those 538 nautical miles (that’s around 990km or approximately one hour on a plane) you actually have time to take a tour of the galley and the bridge. And while some of you may roll your eyes with boredom as soon as I mention that, I actually learnt some interesting stuff.

Like this particular ship — the Golden Princess — left Sydney with 150 tonnes of totally fresh produce on board, as the ship was going onto another trip for eight more days.

With a huge Australian guest list, I learned from the head chef Andrea Baiardo, that Aussies prefer lamb over lobster (crustaceans are an American cruiser fave, by the way); that we drink more cocktails than any other nationality on board, tea consumption is greater from Australians and we prefer our beer straight out of a bottle. Standard. (But a nice little slice of Aussie culinary behaviour for you.)

The thing about this ship is that is took about 36 hours to go from Sydney to Melbourne. While that is a big chunk out of any working week, it was, for many, a mini holiday, with one full day at sea and two nights. And there are Wi-Fi packages: so (intermittent) connection guaranteed. Hallelujah!

We arrived in Melbourne very, very early on Friday, having left late on Wednesday, and were picked up by a river pilot about 3am before we sailed into Port Melbourne with all of the fanfare of helicopters flying around the ship with huge “Welcome to Melbourne” flags.

Sure, cruising is not for everyone. But if you pick and choose your on and off board activities — whether that includes lots or none at all — I actually found it a really pleasant way to get to Melbourne.

I got some work done; was in a new environment and like so many of us can do now, worked remotely the entire time. Perfect!

And we haven’t even spoken about the cost yet. (See below for those some pretty impressive details.)

THE GOOD THINGS:

• The food is seriously endless and bloody good. The Princess Cruises group have done a culinary deal with celebrity chef Curtis Stone. There are a handful of dishes (created mainly by Italian chefs) including Stone’s famous roasted pork belly (570 servings of that went down on Thursday night) and his chicken and leek pot pie which are both on the menu in a handful of the ‘smarter’ restaurants on board. And don’t forget there are seemingly countless bars and buffets of all varieties dotted around the ship and the pools.

• Never forget that on a ship, you can do as little as you want or as much as you want. There is no pressure to do a thing.

• On any one day there are personal training sessions, LGBT get-togethers, musical bingo, karaoke madness, origami lessons, pampering seminars and yes, something called the Skywalkers Nightclub. A disco divas paradise. (Of course I popped in!)

• Oh, and there are acupuncture sessions, Zumba classes, trivia challenges, carpet bowls, blackjack tournaments, piano recitals, outdoor movies, ping pong tournaments, impressionists, line dancing lessons and one very full on British Invasion theatre show. Think Rolling Stones, The Beatles et al …

• I love the fact that once you are unpacked, you are unpacked. No schlepping from hotel to hotel or city to city with constant packing and unpacking.

• And if you are not liking your two days sojourn, don’t fret. It is ONLY two days, but I seriously challenge you to find something you will NOT savour. Even looking out to sea from your balcony gives you a sense of quiet, calm, thinking time.

• There were 200 kids on this ship and we saw hardly any — they are SO well catered for that you’d never know they were on board.

• Everyone on board is genuinely friendly — whether that’s because many were en route to the Spring Racing Carnival, who knows? Spirits just seemed to be high as most guests are in holiday mode

• You arrive relaxed, maybe slightly overweight (boy, the food never stops) and provided you don’t get motion sickness, you are going to have a brilliant sleep. I promise.

• The Lotus Spa — the ships signature named pampering posse — gave me the most wicked hot stone massage — my muscles are still reeling in ecstasy. There are also facials, manis, pedis, teeth whitening treatments (yup!) and whatever your beauty heart desires.

THE NOT SO GOOD THINGS:

• Like everything, you get what you pay for — so you’re not going to get caviar and Krug champagne — but this isn’t one of those smaller, much pricier cruises where that is the culinary norm.

• You really have to be careful of your on-board account card, as it is used for drinking, gaming, shopping and spa treatments. It’s easy to rack up ‘unexpected’ bucks you didn’t realise you were spending.

• Like everywhere in life, not every guest is going to be your cup of, well, whatever, but this ship is SOO big it is incredibly easy to avoid anyone who may have rubbed you up the wrong way.

• I am being honest here, but the slight odour from the poor guest who threw up not far from my room took a while to subside but there were plenty of cleaners on duty 24/7 trying getting rid of the stench.

• This particular cruise is not a runway fashion show: I really wouldn’t bother packing anything too grand or glam. The bejewelled earrings and killer designer heels stayed in my suitcase.

• A few guests twirled around the ship sans shoes — something I never quite get — not for any silly style reason but more from a safety point of view. There are a few moments of delicate walkway diplomacy needed.

• Oh, and there is no way you can make the ship go any faster — this is a ‘commitment’ travel. So be prepared.

***

Packages for this particular two night jaunt started at $470 per person. And when you do your sums and work out what you get, it’s mighty good value.

Considering that includes an extremely comfortable room (it had the best bed and fabulous linen), all food, a small balcony with an uninterrupted sea view (that’s an essential, I reckon), as much entertainment as you want, adults-only and all-ages pools, in room TV, a good size bathroom and basically whatever activity you want to do. Yes. It’s great value.

And while the Princess Line isn’t in the incredibly up-market league of Seabourn or Silver Seas or Crystal Cruises, 1.7 million people make a journey on one of the cruise company’s 18 ships each year. And that number is growing ridiculously huge each year. Australians, it seems, love cruising

Sure, it may have only been 36 hours, but it gave me a taste of a new way of affordable and everyday cruising from one major city to the other.

As of today, this ship is now calling Melbourne home over summer and the one thing it is out to prove is that mainstream and affordable cruising has gone from daggy and at-times questionable to fun very, very tasty, super organised and efficient..

And, hey, what a terrific way for my race day hatbox to travel.

Now, it’s time to hop off and gear up to giddy up!

• Melissa Hoyer was a guest of Princess Cruises on the Golden Princess from Sydney to Melbourne just in time to #giddyup!

This article was originally posted on news.com.au


Inside the birdcage on Derby day

THE skies were dark grey and the dress code was strictly black and white.

But there was no shortage of colour as the stars, fashionistas, punters and thrillseekers stepped out at a wet and chilly Flemington Race Track for Derby Day this morning.

About 90,000 racegoers turned out for the Melbourne’s 2015 Spring Racing Carnival event.

The earlybirds this morning set the fashion bar high as many showed off their finery and others showed rules were made to be broken.

Among the stars spotted trackside were Hollywood actor Hilary Swank, Aussie screen siren Gracie Otto, Fashion Police host Melissa Rivers, catwalk queens Jennifer Hawkins and Jessica Gomes, Channel Seven golden girls Samantha Armytage and Edwina Bartholomew, and radio personality Emma Freedman.

Reality TV stars were also out in full force with a swag of former The Bachelor cast members, including Tim Robards, Anna Heinreich, Sam Wood each putting their best fashion foot forward

Melissa — daughter of the late Joan Rivers — told news.com.au she was on site as a guest of the E! Channel and Mumm champagne.

She said race days weren’t normally on the Fashion Police agenda but, like the Kentucky Derby, she would hold off on making any judgments on the local style until later.

Melissa said her late mother was always with her and that her spirit would be looking down and advising her daughter what she really thought of some of the Derby Day outfits.

The biggest name guest of the day, Hilary Swank, made a fleeting appearance in the marquee of vitamin company, Swisse.

What was originally just a photo opportunity for the media turned into the world’s shortest media conference with just one question asked and answered.

When asked what designer she was wearing to Derby Day, she swiftly answered, “Christopher Esber”. And like that, she waved and was whisked away from the media crew.

The constant showers had most people staying inside marquees including Myer, Emirates, Lexus, Swiss or Lavassa, without the usual prancing that happens most other years.

Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow was absent from the mix. The star was rumoured to have turned down an invitation to the event.

Fashion blogger and social media whiz Margaret Zhang crushed the box like only a style-forward entrepreneur can — wearing gold head jewellery, a navy coat with extra long sleeves over a black, frilled skirt and open-toe boots.

Homegrown model Jess Hart was snapped grinning from ear to ear as she arrived at the prestigious Swisse marquee wearing a print dress and bold accessories.

TV personality Johanna Griggs stuck to the dress code, donning block colour separates and a wide-brimmed hat, and was one of the first stars to appear at the Emirates marquee.

Actor Daniel McPherson looked sharp in a clean cut suit and a pair of the shiniest shoes in town, proving fashion — and attention to detail — isn’t all about the ladies. Model brothers Zac and Jordan Stenmark complemented each other perfectly in shades of black, white and grey.

Other celebrities and revellers took to social media to show off their get-ups as they prepared for a day of frivolity, bubbles and high fashion.

Myer ambassador and spring racing regular Rachael Finch teased her Instagram followers with a black and white photo of the back of her striking dress as she left for the track.

The fashion stakes didn’t disappoint with the start of the Myer Fashions on the Field competition for both women and men. Courtney Moore was named Myer Fashions on the Field Women’s racewear winner with Charlotte Moor taking out second place.

Looking relaxed and happy in the incredibly chic British-themed Emirates marquee was Julie Bishop and her partner David Panton. Ms Bishop looked happy to be having a few hours of ‘down time’ but with a zillion people requesting pics with her, does it ever happen?

In the very buzzy and busy Myer marquee, Sunrise co-host Samantha Armytage looked fresh and chic having had a girlfriend create a fresh flowered headpiece.

“The day certainly isn’t as busy as other Derby days there’s actually a really lovely feeling and personally I love the black-and-white theme, “ Armytage said.

“I had a girlfriend make my fresh rose headpiece this morning so was nice just to feel relaxed and have a friend create something very relaxed and pretty for me.”

Racing royalty Kate Waterhouse said there were rules in fashion that race goers should stick by. “It’s an elegant day, it’s a smart day and it’s not a nightclub,” Ms Waterhouse said.

“Out of all the days I really like the microphone theme of Derby Day and isn’t a day to be showing too much skin.’’

Organisers have dubbed the event “the day for classic elegance, and sets the pace for the entire week”.

Oh, and, apparently, there were some horses racing too.

“Considered by many to be the most prestigious day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, Derby Day embodies a world of glamour and sophistication — only to be matched by an impressive day of all black type races,” organisers said.

The feature race of the day, the Group 1 AAMI Victoria Derby, boasts an impressive prize money of over $1 million.


50 years ago English model Jean Shrimpton came to the Melbourne Racing Carnival and 'shocked' the fashion establishment on Derby Day

Love this. It is 50 years since English model #JeanShrimpton caused headlines around the world when she wore a white mini dress on Derby Day in 1965 when she attended with Terence Stanp – it became an iconic image. And even worse she had no hat, gloves or stockings! #howshocking #MelbCupCarnival #derbyday Ms Shrimpton was an ambassador of DuPont de Nemours, promoting a fabric called Orlon. Ms Shrimpton was in #Melbourne for four days of the entire carnival. She was judging the frocks on the field as well #fashion #fashionhistory


Etihad airways teams up with LUXE City Guides for stylish new business class amenity kits

Etihad Airways has launched a colourful new range of collectable limited-edition Business Class amenity kits, the result of a unique collaboration between the airline and luxury travel brand LUXE City Guides, the straight-talking, highly curated go-to guide for savvy travellers.

The stylish new kits embody the contemporary and innovative flair synonymous with the Etihad Airways brand, and contain inflight amenities and natural facial products developed exclusively by London-based skincare and grooming brand Scaramouche + Fandango.

Six new stylised kit designs have been created by LUXE City Guides for Etihad Airways, inspired by some of the iconic cities on the airline’s extensive global network. The designs for Abu Dhabi, London and Madrid, have been specially produced for Etihad Airways, whilst the Sydney, Los Angeles and Hong Kong kits feature bespoke LUXE artwork. Each kit contains a customised Etihad Airways LUXE City Guide which corresponds to the showcased city,covering everything from hotels and restaurants, to spas, bars, boutiques and bespoke shopping, as well as services, specialists and personal guides.

Scaramouche + Fandango has developed an exclusive unisex comfort kit and skincare offering in collaboration with Etihad Airways. Specially formulated for skincare needs inflight, the range consists of paraben-free products, high in natural ingredients, to enhance onboard wellbeing.

Calum Laming, Etihad Airways’ Vice President Guest Experience, said: “The introduction of these kits is not about providing brand names to our Business Class guests. It is about intelligent design, functionality and providing them with products which are attractive, natural, useful and re-usable. Collaborating with relevant, progressive lifestyle brands such as LUXE City Guides and Scaramouche + Fandango has enabled us to tailor amenities to the requirements of our guests while retaining all the authentic charm and sophistication of the Etihad Airways brand.

“Etihad Airways continues to reimagine the flying experience, setting a new benchmark for innovation and luxury. The introduction of these kits is part of a much bigger journey which was started with the introduction of our new revolutionary cabins on the flagship Airbus A380 and Boeing 787s, and the new service concepts introduced fleet-wide. These collectable kits also reflect the global nature of our business, while simultaneously highlighting the inspiration, style and unique qualities of our home, Abu Dhabi.”

The Abu Dhabi kit uses a unique design pattern inspired by the rich architectural heritage of the Emirate, translated into a style best described as Arabian Modernism. The pattern reflects the Etihad Airways’ brand and colour palette.

Reminiscent of 1960s pop culture, the London kit uses the bold colours of the iconic London Underground map while the Madrid kit features the red and yellow of the Spanish flag in a pattern symbolising the city’s famous annual Carnival.

The initial limited-edition offering will be expanded at a later stage, with new designs and more cities to be launched.

Simon Westcott, LUXE City Guides Chief Executive Officer, said: “Etihad Airways offers one of the best in-flight experiences in the world. In partnering with LUXE City Guides to create its new Business Class amenity kits, Etihad helps ensure that the premium experience extends long after its guests have landed. It is great to be working with fellow innovators.”

The comfort kit features a luxurious facial moisturiser enriched with vitamin E and made with anti-oxidants and essential oils to combat fatigue and the lower humidity levels in the cabin. Triglycerides and essential oils rebalance the skin’s natural moisture. A honey and shea butter lip balm enriched with vitamin E keeps lips hydrated.

The new kits also include a sleep pack containing socks and eyemask, a care pack containing cotton pads and earbuds, in addition to a dental pack and earplugs.


Supermodel Nicole Trunfio Launches jewellery collection, TRUNFIO

TRUNFIO UNIVERSE™ is a fine jewelry company founded in 2015 upon the manifestation of the Universe Bracelet. Founded by Jewelry designer and Supermodel NICOLE TRUNFIO, who has acquired the iconic trademark logo and intend to consistently create forever long lasting conceptual pieces, which inspire. 

“While enjoying pregnancy I spent my time building Trunfio Universe, making it special, sentimental, and as unique as it could possibly be, with the intention to inspire women all over the world. Today, finally, www.trunfiouniverse.com will be live and our e-commerce store will come to life. I am so excited and honored to have built something I hope will inspire you all,” states Trunfio. The e-tail website will showcase the range that is now available to purchase and includes the following collections: Trunfio Universe Bracelet™, Shooting Stars, Universi and Zodiac.

The Australian model who is known as a creative force in the industry, whether it’s hosting The Face alongside Naomi Campbell, starring in the film Paper Planes opposite Sam Worthington, or celebrating motherhood by gracing the cover of  Elle Magazine breastfeeding her child Zion, Nicole’s passion also lies in fine jewelry. As the sole proprietor of Trunfio Universe™, this collection is an expression of this love. The hero piece of the collection is the Trunfio Universe™Bracelet (patent pending), is defined by an array of collectable solid gold and diamond pave bracelets, and decorative locking mechanisms.

At Trunfio Universe™ quality is what they pride themselves on. All jewelry is handcrafted by the skilled artisans of the House Of Cerrone. Only using the finest 18K Gold or Platinum, and VS2 E-F White Diamonds, with workmanship and integrity that will stand the test of time. Each jewel is accompanied by a custom box, which converts into a lasting jewelry box, and a suede lined embossed leather pouch that is perfect for storage or travel. A Certificate of Authenticity is assigned on purchase and accompanies each Trunfio Universe™ piece

TRUNFIO UNIVERSE™Collection:

Shooting Stars – inspiring its owner to believe in the power of a shooting star, and to make a wish. Proving we are part of something bigger, beyond our control, the shooting star is a symbol of possibility, love and destiny. Poised in the eye of belief, this is truly a statement collection for the bold and dreamy.

Trunfio Universe™ Bracelet – a classic staple in the world of fine jewelry, complimenting the whim and allure of a virtuous woman. This modern day charm bracelet, exuding sentiment and class, was created to empower and inspire. The locking mechanism is decorated by an interchangeable pyramid charm, suited to the taste and personality of each individual woman. Upon winding the charm into the bracelet, we encourage our clients to repeat the words they live by, a daily ritual to lock in your own power. Also offering the option of having a mantra, quote or words of inspiration to be laser engraved into the inner face of the bracelet.

Universi – ‘Universi’ reminds us that the universe is simply everything, meaning everything that is and is not created. Oneness. We have the power to ask the universe to create with us. Every piece was designed to be unisex, making them universally timeless and unique, holding the sentiment of our brand message. “one you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen” – Ralph Waldo Emerson. This collection is a constant reminder that the universe is always on our said, working for us.

Zodiac – Meaning the circle of life, reflects the moods and virtues of each unique individual. A conceptual ring series featuring a subtle hint of each zodiac sign. Whether it’s the sun, rising or moon sign, the mystic in design keeps the jewels personal and sentimental. Collect your zodiac, to compliment your personality and define who you are.