A weekend away, whether two days, three or even a bit longer, can be just what the body, mind and soul needs to re-energise from the modern, fast paced world we find ourselves in. These days, cruising is rapidly pushing itself onto the radar of travellers seeking those short cruises, appealing more and more as a great way to get away for a short break.
As part of that urge for a couple of days off, travellers seek as little stress as possible in arranging a weekend away, from accommodation to meals and entertainment – it all needs to be easy. The effectiveness and ability for cruising to tick all three of these boxes with one stroke of the pen can largely explain the popularity of short cruises in Australia.
One such destination which has seen marked growth in visitor numbers on the back of cruising has been the Margaret River region, tucked nicely in the far south west of Western Australia. Already well known as a wine destination, much like the Hunter Valley in NSW or the Barossa in SA, the Margaret River region has one thing the other two do not – it is located much closer to the coast than its eastern counterparts.
Only a short drive from Busselton, the region regularly welcomes the weekend crowd from the city but in growing numbers, it has been welcoming cruise travellers visiting on ships from P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises, full of those escaping the Monday to Friday grind.
The Margaret River region is visited by P&O as part of its Sea Breaks short cruises. Even though the ship can easily reach its destination overnight, the fare includes a stack of activities and opportunities to relax, so the cruise will head out to sea for the first two nights, giving you a chance to enjoy the ship and all it has to offer. As the holiday is to a wine region, P&O will run a number of wine-based activities onboard including tastings of local blends and labels, heightening the anticipation for the arrival on the third day.
P&O will spend the day berthed in Busselton, around half an hour from the Margaret River itself, so guests can venture out on shore excursions which are far from limited to wineries, even though that is certainly for what the region is best known. Guests can choose to explore the Busselton Jetty itself, tour the region by double-decker bus (which also includes a stop at the Vasse Virgin soap factory, tour the local chocolatier Gabriel River, visit a local lighthouse or even go kayaking on the Indian Ocean around Geographe Bay.
Of course, those keen to indulge in the local wines can do so on a number of excursions to vineyards such as Providore, Eagle Bay Brewing Co or Eagle Vale, each of which include opportunities to taste their respective flavours, get an inside look at how the different labels are made and even try some of the local produce.
P&O’s sister brand Princess Cruises has also recently caught on to the hysteria surrounding the Margaret River region and scheduled its own voyages from Perth. The itineraries offered by Princess to this part of the world are largely the reverse of what P&O offers, with the day in Busselton up first followed by the day at sea. Sometimes, there will be no sea day at all with a two-night voyage returning to Fremantle on the morning of the third day.
Undoubtedly though, the best part of a short cruise to the Margaret River region is the price. Itineraries start from as little as $399 per person twin share for an interior stateroom, climbing of course if you promote yourself to an Ocean View or Balcony cabin or even to a Suite – treat yourself to the extra luxuries if you so choose. Keep your eye out also for opportunities to upgrade your stateroom for free, with these short cruises often featuring promotions including free upgrades and onboard credit.