One of the reasons for the big jump in Australian passenger numbers – up more than 20 per cent in 2014 – is the increase in the number of short cruises on offer.
Cruise lines are changing the way they do business, offering “taster” cruises of just a few days, that allow them to turn ships around faster and get more passengers onboard. In 2014, the number of people taking cruises of four days or less increased by 59 per cent and cruises of five to seven days by 31 per cent. That means almost 350,000 people, or about a third of the total Australian market, were onboard for less than a week.
P&O started the trend when it launched its short-break cruises in 2010 and the program has increased every year. In the 2011/2012 season there were just 16 cruises of less than seven days. In 2016/2017, P&O will be running 84 of its rebranded SeaBreaks around regional Australia and New Zealand.
Carnival Cruise Line will launch a new three-night weekend sampler voyage to lure first-time cruisers in its 2016/17 program. Carnival’s two ships, Legend and Spirit, have always attracted families and couples, but the line wants to use these “cruises to nowhere” to give those who are new to cruising a taste of what it’s is all about. “The weekend getaways at sea are for those who want to try cruise and are not sure what to expect,’’ said vice president Australia Jennifer Vandekreeke.
Short cruises tend to be round trips, stopping at just a couple of ports (or they might spend the whole time at sea). They offer a chance for passengers to enjoy all the facilities of the ship and spend a little time at a new destination.
Think a short cruise could be for you? These are 10 of the best operating from Australian ports.
Ship: Sun Princess
Ports of call: Brisbane (one-way cruise)
Ship: Legend of the Seas
Ports of call: At sea
Princess Cruises Western Australia Getaway
Ship: Sun Princess
Ports of call: Margaret River
Ship: Pacific Eden
Ports of call: Esperance
Carnival Queensland from Sydney Cruise
Ship: Carnival Spirit
Ports of call: Mooloolaba
Princess Cruises Australia & New Zealand Positioning
Ship: Golden Princess
Ports of call: Auckland (one-way cruise)
P&O Hunter Valley SeaBreak
Ship: Pacific Jewel or Pacific Aria
Ports of call: Newcastle
Carnival Tasmania from Sydney
Ship: Carnival Spirit or Carnival Legend
Ports of call: Hobart, Port Arthur
Australia & Tasmania
Ship: Radiance of the Seas
Ports of call: Melbourne, Hobart
P&O Southern Getaway
Ship: Pacific Jewel
Ports of call: Port Lincoln, Adelaide, Kangaroo Island