One million Australians can’t be wrong, right? Cruising is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the travel industry and it seems like everyone is getting on board. But what if you’re not sure if cruising is for you? Or you’d like to test the waters before committing to two weeks of cabin fever? Then a sampler cruise is just the thing.
The average length of a cruise is about seven days, though you could feasibly spend six months (or more) merrily sailing around the world. Not everyone has that much holiday time up their sleeve or, even if they do, they might not want to commit to an extended trip they know nothing about. Instead, a sampler cruise of less than five nights will give you a taste of everything cruising has to offer. It’s perfect for people who are new to cruising, haven’t cruised in many years, are time-poor or who just want to see what all the fuss is about.
There’s one area where these short and sweet cruises really come into their own – celebrations. It’s becoming increasingly popular for people to mark a milestone 40th birthday or a significant life event like a 20th or 30th wedding anniversary, with a quick break with family or just each other. A short cruise ticks a lot of boxes – great value, plenty of accommodation, endless activities and the opportunity to spend as much time together (or apart) as you’d like.
There are a couple of short cruise options available. You can take what the industry calls a “cruise to nowhere”, where you head out to sea for a few days of onboard fun without visiting any ports. These usually last for three nights over the weekend and give you plenty of time to try out the restaurants, find your favourite cocktail bar, relax in the spa, whizz down the waterslides and learn something new at a workshop. On a really port-heavy itinerary, people can sometimes feel that they don’t get the chance to fully explore the ship. If you’re spending all day on shore, there’s limited time left for flopping and dropping in Carnival’s adults-only Serenity™ Retreat.
If you’d like to actually set foot on dry land at some point during your cruise, then you’ll want to take the second option. These four- or five-night cruises will call at one or two local ports, giving you the best of both worlds. There are a couple of days at sea to get a good feel for the ship as well as at least one full shore day. Because of the tight schedule, port calls need to be close to home. Popular stops for these cruises include Tangalooma Resort on Moreton Island in Queensland from Sydney, and Tasmania’s Port Arthur and Hobart from Melbourne and Sydney.
Even though the cruise is shorter, the full range of shore excursions are still on offer so you can get the most out of your port day. That means you can ride a quad bike over the sand dunes on Moreton Island or spot Tasmanian devils at a wildlife sanctuary near Hobart. But remember, just because your ship calls at a port doesn’t mean you have to get off. You are always welcome to stay on board and enjoy the facilities.