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3-day cruise vs. road trip: WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO SEE AUSTRALIA?


We weighed up the pros and cons of each type of holiday to help you make the most of your long weekend. Because after 2020, we all deserve a full-sized holiday in three days!

1. You can squeeze more in with a cruise

With its coast-meets-country landscape, Australia is a beautiful place to take a scenic drive. But it’s also a large country, and it can take hours to drive from one destination to the next. The problem is, when you’re driving, there isn’t much to do but chat with your companions, listen to music, and maybe read a book (if you don’t get carsick). 

Time is precious on holidays, and cruise lines can help you to maximise every second of your trip. The journey is half the fun, and there are plenty of onboard activities to keep you and the whole family entertained during your downtime. You won’t waste time sitting in traffic, snaking through toll lines, or filling up at petrol stations, either.

For that reason, a cruise is a great way to spend a well-deserved break, and check out the best places to visit in Australia.

2. Cruises have activities for everyone — and every interest

When you’re on holiday, you decide what to do with your time. Road trips give you the opportunity to stop at great places along the way, drive to remote areas with beautiful landscapes, and make a couple of detours to take the most scenic route – but your entertainment options are still limited. On a P&O cruise, you have over 60 onboard cruise ship activities to choose from. The freedom to set your own schedule is one of the major benefits of cruise holidays.

If you want to zen out after the year-that-won’t-be-named, you could book a session at the day spa, pop into the hair salon or curl up with a good book on the pool deck and watch the world go by. If you’re hoping to break a sweat at sea, check out the gym, sauna, or running track, or flow in a yoga class. And if you’re into team sports, rally your friends and perfect your serve or jump shot on the tennis and basketball courts. 

With so much time on your hands, you could also sign up to learn something new. The cruise ship activities list includes a range of classes, from mixology and dance classes to rock climbing. After dark, there’s karaoke, trivia, live music, parties and adult-only comedy clubs to try out, too.

As for the kids, they’ll be busy swimming in pools and waterslides and making friends their age at the Kids Club. Thrill-seeking kids will love P&O Edge Adventure Parks aboard the Pacific Dawn, Pacific Aria, and Pacific Explorer ships. They’ll come running back to you with stories about rock climbing and zip lining on the top deck of a cruise ship. 

Whether you want to do it all or do nothing at all, a 3-day cruise will allow you to design your holiday, the way you want it.

3. There’s less admin with a cruise

As a parent, planning a holiday can be stressful. You have to make sure there are dining, accommodation and entertainment options that suit everyone and coordinate the family’s schedules. 

The most appealing part of a cruise is the lack of admin (followed by never hearing “are we there yet?”). All you have to do is show up to the departure dock and unpack once, and the crew will take care of everything else. You won’t need to worry about cooking, making dinner reservations or finding fun activities. And if you want to hand the reins over while you indulge in some me-time, you can sign up your little ones to an age-specific Kids Club and trust they’ll be entertained all day long. 

Most 3-day cruise packages include one land-based stop, and you can opt into additional guided shore tours if you like. Plus, since most 3-day cruises set sail over a weekend, it’s easier to coordinate dates with a larger group, like your extended family.

To compare, road trips usually involve a lot more admin. Along with deciding on a route and departure time, you need to factor in rest stops and bathroom breaks, and book overnight stays for longer drives. 

4. Road trips costs can rack up — quickly

At first glance, road trips may seem like the most cost-effective option. But between accommodation, food, petrol, and highway tolls, the cost of road trips quickly adds up.

There’s a reason why cruises have repeat guests all the time: they offer value for money. Between the accommodation, entertainment and endless buffet meals, cruise liner holidays are almost always more cost-effective than land-based holidays. Most cruise lines offer deals and discounts, too.

To give you an idea of how much you might pay, a 3-day cruise costs a few hundred dollars a night. How much will a road trip cost? You might spend that on a hotel or Airbnb alone on a road trip.

Cruises represent amazing value for your holiday dollar when you consider all the features you’ll find on a modern Australian cruise ship: a great choice of restaurants, stylish bars and lounges, pools, sports deck, jogging track and gym, a child-free Oasis retreat, theatres staging an array of live shows, an outdoor movie screen and more. Plus, everything is just a short stroll away from your room!

The most popular 3-day cruises

When all you have is 3 days, you can’t go past a short cruise. If you’re looking to book a cruise in 2021, these trips are coming up:

* P&O Comedy Cruise. You’re guaranteed to spend this long weekend laughing as you listen to Australia’s best comedians every night. As the ship sails from Auckland to Brisbane, you’ll get to watch comedy shows, dress up for the Comedy Cruise Gala and even take the stage yourself!

* P&O 80s Cruise. Va, va, voom! This 3-day cruise from Sydney sails around the East Coast and takes you on a trip down memory lane. Expect disco balls, big hair and plenty of dancing and onboard fun as you revisit one of the most vibrant decades in recent history.

* P&O Classic Short Break Cruise. This bestselling 3-day cruise from Brisbane docks at two unforgettable destinations. At Airlie Beach, you can dive, swim, and soak up the sun on the famous white-sand shores. You’ll wrap up your cruise in Cairns, where you can choose to explore the glittering Coral Sea or the lush hinterland.

* P&O Australia Day Cruise. The best way to see the Harbour City’s most iconic sights is from the water, and this P&O 3-day cruise from Sydney shines a spotlight on the city. You’ll get to check out everything the ship has to offer as you sail around the coast for two days, before anchoring in Sydney Harbour for the January 26 celebrations.

* P&O Sapphire Coast Food Festival Cruise. The ultimate cruise for foodies, this ship sets sail from Sydney and stops at Eden, one of the most charming seaside towns on the Sapphire Coast. Pack your appetite, because the annual Food Festival showcases the talents of the best chefs in the region.

Book a cruise for your next holiday

With many international borders closed, now is the time to be exploring our own backyard — and it’s a beautiful one at that! To stay close to home and make the most of your short break, explore P&O’s cruises around Australia.