It is the most hotly anticipated new piece of entertainment in Australian cruise. Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas may be a big ship – but for adventurous spirits, there is only one area of this massive vessel that attracts: the FlowRider.
So as soon as my guest and I dump our bags in our stateroom, we race to deck 13 to give the ride some hell!
The surf simulator sits on the back of the ship, painted blue and looking a little like a cross between a kids paddling pool and a ski slope.
I’d been boasting to some colleagues in the Cruise Passenger office about my athletic prowess for some time, and explaining how I would be conquering the FlowRider in no time.
I’d seen the video of the captain sliding effortlessly across the water on his board. How hard could this be?
I wasn’t alone in my desire to be the first to try the new ride, but I was the third guest in line (hint to any cruisers keen to follow in my wake: get there early!)
So up I rocked, donned a wristband and watched as the FlowRider instructors (all ripped, tanned and quite good looking guys) surfed, splash the audience and just generally made the ride look effortless and easy.
By this time, I was feeling pretty confident. I watched the two people ahead of me. Both were wiped out in seconds. Now, it was my turn.
I was given instructions on how to hold the board just under my rib cage.
Gripping the board with both hands, I closed my eyes and leapt into the waves, holding on for dear life.
What a rush! The water swirling around me and I was manoeuvering from left to right on my FlowRider board. The next few seconds seemed like an eternity…
I thought I’d definitely be able to get on my feet. After all, I surf every summer. But – and you’ve probably guessed – as soon as I slid my knee under my body, I was swept away by the rushing waves.
But I was pretty determined not to be defeated. I lowered my sights. The new aim of the game was to get on my knees and ride the wave.
By this time we had a crowd watching and cheering us on. So we decide to go again. We were fearless (some may say foolhardy), but we were determined. One guest lost her swimmers in the process – top and bottom. Embarrassing!
But nonetheless, we kept on trying.
It was my second last turn. I jumped on board into the waves. I pushed down onto the board and slid both my knees under my body…success! I was up! And surfing the FlowRider! And the first guest on her knees!
That’s the good hit. But it didn’t last…
Perhaps a little bit cocky, I tried to hop onto my feet. As soon as I tried to stand up, I was suddenly thrown to the back of the FlowRider, followed by a mouth and nose full of water.
I decided to lick my wounds and celebrate my (partial success).
After spending half an hour getting tossed around by the FlowRider, I was spent. It was time to retire and watch the other guests try their luck.
I was definitely not going to be a pro on the FlowRider but I definitely did have a great ride.
Good on Royal Caribbean for bringing a challenging game on board to tempt – and exasperate – real adventure seekers.
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