Escape winter and head on a cruise

Picture this. It’s a chilly August morning in Sydney, the wind is howling, the rain is relentless and the temperature gauge has barely made it into double figures. Your brolly has just blown inside out. You’re wet to the bone, and so far you have only made it to the bus stop.

If that sounds gloomy, and depressing, then picture this…

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Serenity Retreat, onboard a Carnival ship.

You escape winter…the sun beams down on you as you eat your gourmet breakfast on the deck of Carnival Spirit as she sails into the picturesque harbour at Port Vila. The high for the day is expected to be a pleasant 24 degrees with just the hint of a breeze coming off the water to cool you as you wander through the dusty streets of this pretty and compact town. You can swim in the ocean (water temperatures don’t vary much throughout the year) and sun bake on the many South Pacific island beaches while you provide a much needed boost to your dwindling Vitamin D levels.

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A study of 11,000 adults published in November last year showed that nearly one third of Australians are suffering from Vitamin D deficiency. So booking an off-peak Winter Cruise is not only fun, all that extra sunshine could be good for your long-term health. It’s a win-win situation.

The contrasts between Sydney and the South Pacific in Winter couldn’t be more stunning. Australian temperatures vary dramatically in winter and sometimes sit in the single figure category, while the South Pacific tends to sit on a bankable 25 degree average. South Pacific winter cruises range from 8 to 12-nights and stop at exotic ports like Noumea, Port Denarau, Suva, Mystery Island, and the Isle of Pines. Carnival also offers a short 4-night getaway to Queensland (where it’s always warm) from Sydney and the ship stops in either Mooloolaba or Moreton Island.

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Mooloolaba, Queensland.

Off-peak cruising on a Carnival cruise is a fantastic way to escape the chills of an Australian winter. Because it’s off-peak (and you have avoided the busy school holiday times), the cruise ship passengers tend to be a little older, and therefore the onboard atmosphere is a little more relaxed.

Don’t think for a moment though that off-peak means less service. Be assured that you will enjoy the same high-quality food, service and entertainment as always. And another bonus is that off-peak cruising often means there are some fantastic bargains and upgrade deals to be had. And let’s face it, everyone loves a good deal.

Some of the biggest savings can be made by booking in advance. In fact if you book when itineraries are first announced that’s when you tend to get, not only a good deal, but extras such as onboard credit or cabin upgrades thrown into the mix.

Also another key factor in opting for an off-peak travel period is that your ports of call will be quieter than the hectic summer months. In winter, with fewer ships visiting the South Pacific ports, you are more likely to get an even warmer welcome, if that is possible, from the locals. The queues will be shorter and the locals will be motivated to sell their products, so you can expect to save some cash on souvenir purchases.  Some would argue that the benefits of off-peak travel often outweigh the downsides. The in-port rates for activities will almost always be cheaper, you will get a more personalised service, and the destination won’t be crowded. What’s not to like about that!

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Mystery Island, Vanuatu.

The only time you will need your jacket, apart from formal night, is when you are sailing in and out of Sydney Harbour. And at least the memories of that warm escape, and that Vitamin D boost, will help get you through the last days of winter back home.

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