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“It’s a sprint not a marathon,” says the Carnival Legend’s Entertainment Director Calvyn. “There’s a much more fun atmosphere on a three-day cruise compared to something like an eight-day cruise,” he said.

Short cruises are all the rage this winter, with a number of lines offering them. Some are attached to events. Others are tapping into the weekend-break market.

And why not? When meals and entertainment are included, a cruise is far better value than a stay in a resort or a hotel.

We’re on a three-day cruise aboard the Carnival Legend from Melbourne to Sydney to find out exactly how much we can fit in on one of the line’s fun-size cruises.

“Because guests only have a limited amount of time, they try and cram everything that they can into the holiday,” says Calvyn.

And that’s exactly what we did.

“If you want to make the most of your cruise, try as much as you can. And try things you never thought you would want to do. The vibe onboard is electric so my advice is to get amongst it,” said Calvyn.

Boarding from Port Melbourne, the Carnival Legend is one of two Carnival Cruise Line Australia ships. Along with the Carnival Spirit, the ships are relaxed and fun, and are designed for the family cruiser.

In three days, you can pack in as much as little or as much as possible as much as you want. You can try all the dining venues, including the BlueIguana Cantina which serves tacos and burrito bowls, Guy Fieri’s Burger Joint, the Nouveau steakhouse or get your heart racing on the Green Thunder waterslide, shoot some hoops or chill out in the Serenity adults-only area.

The program starts at 8am and kicks off with activities like the Morning Show with the ship’s Cruise Director, Chloe and then throughout the day, there are a range of things to do like themed trivia, the Dr Seuss Parade, backyard cricket, bingo, bocce ball tournaments as well as karaoke.

“We have to plan a pretty intensive cruise program for the guests because we find that the guests on the three-day cruises want to utilise their time as much as possible,” said Chloe, the ship’s Cruise Director.

I managed to fit in an art auction, two games of bingo, trivia, karaoke, learnt a dance routine, welcomed the morning sun with a yoga class, watched the ice carving, the animal towel making class, the Dr Seuss Parade, a ladies pamper as well as two workouts, a sauna, and a dip in the wellness centre.

We feasted on pulled pork tacos and burrito bowls and had a naked burger (a bunless burger) from Guy Fieri’s Burger Joint with all the trimmings.

But the standout in our cruise sprint was the decadent dinner we had at the Nouveau restaurant.

Starting with an amuse bouche of potato soup, our starters of smoked oysters (which came in a cloche filled with flavoured smoke) and stuffed mushrooms followed. The table then opted for a range of different cuts of beef and lamb while I tackled a surf and turf of filet mignon and lobster.

The pièce de résistance of the trip was the ‘Art Attack’ dessert, a share plate for the entire table, of jellies, tiramisu, macarons as well as an absolutely wicked chocolate fudge.

“The problem with such a short cruise, is that people feel like they are missing out on things,” said Chloe.

“But I guess it’s an enticement to get people to come back and try another cruise. It’s just supposed to be a taste of what more you can get.”

Here are some other short cruises from Australian ports you can try out:

2-nights on Celebrity Cruises, Sydney return

This itinerary sails on Celebrity Solstice and departs on October 16, 2020. The ship departs Sydney in the evening, spends a day at sea before returning the next day. This ‘cruise to nowhere’ on this luxury vessel starts from $499 per person and is perfect for someone looking for a quiet time at sea. See our review here 

3-nights on Royal Caribbean Cruises, Sydney return

Depart Sydney on the Ovation of the Seas on this ‘Sampler Cruise’ to spend two full days at sea. Chase your adrenaline rush; rock climbing, driving bumper cars or experience flying in the skydiving simulator. You can also re-enact a lazy Sunday by relaxing at the spa or lounge by the side of the pool. This sailing goes from $697 and sails on November 10, 2019. See our review of the ship here

2-nights on Princess Cruises, Brisbane to Sydney

This sailing departs Brisbane on Sun Princess and spends a day at sea sailing towards Sydney, arriving the next morning. This itinerary sails October 13, 2019 and October 4, 2020. Only balcony cabins are left for the 2019 sailing, going from $540 and the 2020 sailing has interior cabins from $298.

3-nights on Cruise & Maritime Voyages, Adelaide return

The Vasco da Gama departs Adelaide on December 6, 2019 and makes stops at Wallaroo and Port Lincoln before returning to Adelaide. The prices for this sailing start from $434 per person and the cruise line is currently running ‘buy one get one free’ offer. See our view of the Columbus here.