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Ever dreamt of going on a cruise only to have your hopes shattered by an unaccommodating calendar or a disobliging budget? Those days are over! Thanks to a little something the industry likes to call ‘sampler cruises’ holidaymakers can enjoy whirlwind at-sea getaways that last a matter of days. Want to know more? Read on for our insider’s guide to sampler cruises and what makes them so popular.
A history of cruisers that know how to make the most of their weekends!
The concept may just be making a comeback but it has actually been around for several decades. In fact, in the past the industry referred to them as ‘cruises to nowhere’ or ‘party cruises.’ Traditionally ships would set sail on Friday afternoon, treat passengers to 72 hours of merrymaking and pull pack into port three days later. Nowadays they’re referred to as ‘sampler cruises,’ ‘short breaks’ or ‘mini cruises.’ Most itineraries will run from Friday to Monday however some lines offer Thursday to Sunday voyages, while Royal Caribbean’s two and three night midweek cruises are a great option for retirees. Whatever you decide, two to three days is the perfect amount of time to enjoy all the incredible on-board facilities available.
For convenience purposes the vast majority of itineraries are round trips that pull out of a certain port, cruise out to sea and return three days later. That said, some lines do offer cruises that end up in different ports, or even states! Of course, vessels will always venture out far enough to let passengers hit up the casino and shop up a storm at duty free.
Which lines offer sampler cruises?
When it comes to choice P&O lead the pack, with a wide variety of sampler cruises throughout the year. The themed ‘SeaBreaks’ packages are perfect for holidaymakers who are short on time or simply want to indulge in a short yet luxurious break. Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Celebrity have also embraced the trend although their itineraries aren’t quite as extensive.
Choose your theme
While some cruises simply offer passengers the chance to relax, unwind and enjoy all the on-board facilities others are centred on unique themes. These can be anything from food and wine to dancing and astronomy. P&O has wholeheartedly embraced the themed concept, with its Food & Wine SeaBreaks offering passengers the chance to view cooking demonstrations, attend nutrition talks, sign up for cocktail making classes and learn how to pair chocolate and wine. Celebrity chef, Luke Mangan even makes an appearance on selected voyages! Some of our other standout favourites are Comedy Club SeaBreaks cruises which feature celebrated Aussie comedians and Lifestyle SeaBreaks cruises which cover everything from arts and crafts to circus skills and fitness.
Introducing Aussies to the joys of cruising
The latest statistics from CLIA Australasia revealed that the Down Under cruise market is rapidly growing, with the number of Aussies embarking on voyages set to hit one million by 2016. Yet there are still plenty of people who’ve never set foot on a cruise ship and it’s this demographic that ‘sampler cruises’ are largely tailored for. They offer holidaymakers the chance to ‘try before they buy’ and address any qualms they may have about hitting the high seas.
With a limited number of itineraries available throughout the year it pays to get in quick before places sell out. Cruise 1st is currently offering some great deals on sampler cruises to suit every budget, interest and calendar. And our final tip? Make sure you board the ship as early as possible you can make the absolute most out of your whirlwind getaway!
Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credit: platibolo