From a skippered yacht in the Whitsunday Islands to a big cruise ship plying Australia’s eastern coastline, there are a multitude of short trips to choose from. Go for a voyage of two to five days on one of the big ships to see why cruising is so popular and to decide whether you’d enjoy a longer time at sea. Royal Caribbean calls them “sampler” cruises and, typically, they leave a port such as Sydney and go out to sea for a few days on a round trip.
Although short cruises often go out to sea, they also take in some of Australia’s iconic sites. The Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House, Great Barrier Reef, the gum-lined Murray River and Hobart’s waterfront are among the possibilities. Also keep an eye out for specially themed cruises. P&O, for example, offers three-night food and wine, music and comedy sailings from all popular departures ports in Australia including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide & Fremantle. The comedy cruise includes shows, stand-up routines and workshops for budding comedians whereas the food & wine cruises have demonstrations from celebrity chefs & onboard cooking competitions!
Most likely destinations
Round trips out to sea from Sydney and other major ports such as Brisbane, Fremantle, Melbourne & Adelaide are perfect for first time cruisers looking to test the waters. Other itineraries include Brisbane to Sydney (or reverse), Melbourne to Sydney (or reverse), Sydney to Hobart (or reverse), Whitsunday Islands, the Murray River, Great Barrier Reef & Hobart.
Three of the best
Explore the historic wharf area and, if opportunity allows, take in Hobart’s major attractions, including the Saturday Salamanca Market, MONA (The Museum of Old and New Art), and a burgeoning food scene. The market, which runs from 8.30am to 3pm, has more than 300 stalls and you’ll find plenty of craft, food and music on offer in a precinct flanked by historic sandstone buildings and parkland with shady plane trees. Historic Battery Point is also close to the waterfront and Salamanca Market. MONA is a private collection with hundreds of works, some of them controversial, on display in a three-level subterranean museum. There is a winery and restaurant on the 3.5-hectare site and you can take a 30-minute ferry ride there from Hobart’s waterfront.
After your ship anchors, or if you have time in the city before your ship departs, head for the nearby ferry terminal and catch the Manly ferry. It’s a short ride across the harbour to the beachside suburb. Stroll through the mall towards the ocean beach for some bodysurfing or a walk along the short Manly to Shelley Beach path that is so close to the water it’s sometimes splashed by waves. Of course, Sydney is full of other attractions such as the bridge, Opera House, Darling Harbour and Bondi Beach.
Explore Australia's most picturesque coastline on a short cruise. Snorkel the world-famous reef and stop at idyllic beaches where you can swim in crystal-clear water. These cruises are perfect for romantic getaways, family holidays and group adventures!
On the big ships, main meals are included in the fare along with loads of activities, entertainment, swimming pools and, of course, deck chairs and sun lounges. Optional extras may include a day spa, personal training, yoga, dining at a chef’s table, and a casino. Alcoholic drinks will also cost extra.
Before or after the short voyage, book into a hotel for a night to take in some extra sights and attractions.