Australians love to cruise – more than a million Aussies took one last year. If you’re not yet among the converts, consider these seven reasons a cruise is the best kind of holiday.
1. Simplify your packing
Moving from hotel to hotel is stressful. When you’re on the move, you’re bound to leave things behind or perhaps not even bother to unpack. One of the best things about cruising is that you can settle into your cabin for the duration of your holiday. Hang up those outfits, fill the drawers, arrange your shoes and pop your favourite magazines and books on the bedside table.
2. Explore unusual ports
Always wanted to visit Port Arthur? Instead of travelling to Hobart and hiring a car, look for a cruise line (such as Carnival or Princess Cruises) that drops anchor right off the historic convict site. Each year, cruise lines add more and more adventurous ports of call to their itineraries. P&O, for instance, now cruises to Papua New Guinea and, in June, became the first cruise line to make Dili in Timor Leste a port of call. P&O will once again stop at Dili in September, 2016.
3. Commune with nature
P&O ships regularly drop anchor off low-slung Moreton Island near Brisbane. Many southerners haven’t heard of the rugged island but it’s home to an artificial reef of shipwrecks that attract scores of colourful fish (the reef is easily reachable from the shoreline, BYO snorkel). Passengers can also sign up for a twilight shore excursion to handfeed the wild dolphins that flock to the beachfront of the island’s Tangalooma Resort.
4. Learn a new skill
Brush up on your culinary skills by taking a specialty cruise. Carnival Cruises is featuring masterclasses and cooking demonstrations from celebrity chef Massimo Mele aboard three five-day cruises from Sydney to the Apple Isle next year (departing January 24 and 29, and April 5). P&O also runs three-night food and wine cruises out of Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Fremantle and Auckland that include demonstrations, tastings and pairings.
5. Forget the calories
Diet before or after a cruise but never while you’re aboard! Cruise ship dining has come a long way, with specialty restaurants (think Japanese, Italian and the like), celebrity-chef eateries and even a rethinking of the humble buffet. P&O is installing The Pantry, with sections devoted to Mexican food, curries, fish and chips, desserts and more, on Pacific Jewel, Pacific Eden and Pacific Aria before the coming summer cruise season.
6. Take relaxation to a whole new level
Once you’re on board, settle in, relax and enjoy all that your ship has to offer. With some bigger ships, such as Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas, it can take days to explore the different restaurants, bars, lounges, pools, shops and activities on offer. For those with an adventurous side, Voyager comes with the FlowRider surf simulator, and both ships feature an outdoor rock-climbing wall. Indulge in a massage or perhaps a rejuvenating treatment in the spa.
7. Attend special events
Cruise ships are cleverly making the most out of celebrations such as Australia Day and Melbourne Cup. P&O often schedules big-name entertainers for Australia Day on Sydney Harbour that conclude with the famous fireworks off the Bridge. Carnival cruises from Sydney to Melbourne in time to catch the race that stops a nation each November – the Melbourne Cup.