Cruising offers one of the fastest and easiest ways for travellers to slow down on holiday. Once you start sipping that first tropical cocktail, there is no need to worry about how you are going to get from one destination to the next, whose turn it is to cook dinner or how to keep the kids entertained. Your biggest decision will be whether to treat yourself to a massage at the onboard spa, curl up with a book or soak up the sun on your balcony. It is easy to kick back and relax at sea and on shore, especially if you cruise around Australia.
No passport is required for Australian sailings, you don’t have to learn a new language and there is no need to buy foreign currency. Cruising in Australia is smooth sailing, particularly for first-time travellers. Pack your bags, not your passport, for a cruise from Sydney and you could be wining and dining your way around Hobart in no time. Here you can browse local artworks at Salamanca Place, take a ferry to the cutting edge Museum of Old and New Art, eat freshly caught seafood on the docks or stroll the historic streets around Battery Point.
If you’re onboard for a good time, not a long time, a four-night ‘cruise to nowhere’ gives you plenty of time to relax, wine, dine and dance the night away. Short cruises like these with no ports are the perfect quick fix for when you need a holiday but haven’t got a lot of time (or perhaps money) to spare. Foodies will enjoy Radiance of the Seas which has become known as ‘Australia’s dining ship’ as it includes nearly every signature Royal Caribbean restaurant. Take a culinary journey around the globe as you sample Brazilian fare at Samba Grill, Italian cuisine at Giovanni’s, Mexican at Rita’s Cantina or sushi at Izumi. With four nights onboard, you’ll be able to try a different specialty restaurant each night.
If you want to see more of Australia for less and have time to spare, why not try a repositioning cruise? These longer cruises happen each year when ships that are based in another part of the world during winter sail to Australia to commence their summer season. Larger ships such as Ovation of the Seas are ideal for repositioning cruises as there is plenty of onboard fun to be had. With activities ranging from bumper cars and roller skating to a surf simulator, wine tasting and flying trapeze classes, there is little chance of getting bored on a mega-ship. You also get to experience some terrific local ports as the ship heads down the Australian coast to Sydney. Popular stops include Adelaide, the gateway to the beautiful Barossa wine region, and Fremantle in Western Australia which has a proud maritime history and seriously good cafes. If your ship docks on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, you can spend a few hours (and probably a few dollars) at the lively Fremantle Markets which sell everything from fresh cheeses to local artworks, clothing and antiques.
If you sail down the coast via Queensland, Airlie Beach offers an impressive array of active shore excursions such as Segway tours, jet ski safaris, sea kayaking and a day trip to beautiful Whitehaven Beach. Or you could simply soak up the sun at Airlie’s free swimming lagoon. Nearby Cairns is famous for being the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef but this tropical port offers visitors so much more. Soar high above one of the world’s most significant rainforests on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway or travel on the charming Kuranda Scenic Railway which first opened to passengers in 1891. Independent travellers can hire a car and go in search of the perfect latte amongst the picturesque Atherton Tablelands coffee plantations.
With their easy-to-access ports and stunning scenery, New Zealand and the South Pacific encourage local cruisers to venture further afield. New Zealand has more than its fair share of ‘don’t miss’ natural wonders such as Akaroa’s picturesque harbour which is home to over 15,000 Hector's Dolphin, the rarest oceanic dolphin in the world. If you have ever wanted to spot dolphins in the wild, this is the place. Natural beauty abounds at Dusky Sound, Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound, all of which can be seen in the one day on a cruise ship. Milford Sound was dubbed the 'eighth wonder of the world' by Rudyard Kipling and is equally beautiful rain, hail or shine.
If you would prefer to soak up the sun and work on your tan, tropical ports such as the Isle of Pines, Mystery Island, Vila, Lifou and Noumea can be explored on the aptly named Explorer of the Seas. With a few sea days at the end of each South Pacific itinerary, you will have time to ease your way back to reality before the ship docks in Sydney.