Sampler cruises explained


Sampler cruises are great for first-time cruisers to find out if they like life on the ocean. These cruises will usually last around two or three nights and are referred to as ‘cruises to nowhere’ because they typically sail offshore and hover around the coast of Australia.


Not only do they work as a teaser for first time cruisers, but they’re also ideal for experienced cruisers wishing to sample a different ship or cruise line for a longer voyage. Short cruises are also a neat way to celebrate a special occasion, such as a birthday or anniversary.


While sampler cruises offer a taste of what it would be like to cruise longer, there are a few things to keep in mind when making your decision to choose a cruise line based on the teaser, such as:


You can work out whether you need the drinks package
Drinks packages will either be expensive or cheap depending on how much you drink. The problem is, most cruise lines will need you to pay for an entire cruise worth of drinks package. For example, you can’t buy a four-day package and teetotal for three – you have to go all in. So, the short cruise is a good time to figure out whether the full package works for you.


Sampler cruises will often take place over the weekend
This will really only affect your state of mind. You’ll need to keep in mind that a seven-day cruise lasts a lot longer than a two-day cruise, so ensure that there are enough activities to keep you occupied (or enough deck chairs to keep you relaxed).


They don’t skimp on activities
A sampler cruise will jam every onboard activity into two and a half days, and often for shorter periods. So, a salsa class may take place at 8am in the morning and only go for 30 minutes, whereas on the longer cruise the time it starts may change and it may last a lot longer. Not every activity will be available every day on a longer cruise. Ask your activities manager about class, event, show or activity regularity and times when you’re onboard.


When you take the sampler cruise, you’ll most likely have to prioritise your activities, because there will be clashes. Remember though, that the longer cruise will give you the opportunity to create your own cocktails and take that yoga class.


You may not see all the goodies
Some cruise lines offer so many features that they cannot fit all the good stuff into a two or three-day cruise. Again, ask your activities manager about anything not available on the sample cruise.


Image © Leon Della Bosca

Sneak in some duty-free shopping
Once you’re 22.2km offshore, you’re in international waters, giving you the perfect opportunity to sneak in some duty-free shopping.


Big sales on shorter cruises
Sometimes the onboard stores will have sales during a short cruise, offering goods at a far lower price than during long cruises, so take advantage!


Sampler cruises are also known as booze cruises
You may notice an excessive amount of alcohol consumed on a sampler cruise. I sure did on mine. Royal Caribbean’s Anna Bathgate assures me that this is really is not indicative of life on a longer voyage.


The shorter the cruise, the younger the crowd
You will find that sampler cruises are also used as a boozy weekend away for a younger cruising cohort. Again, Anna tells me that the longer the cruise, the older – and better behaved – the demographic (but still keen to party).


Sampler cruises offer many of the tasty titbits of a longer cruise and they can be a lot of fun, even for those who don’t fancy themselves cruisers.


Have you been on a sampler cruise? Do you think it’s a good way to get a feel for a vessel? What was your reason for trying a short cruise?


Related articles:
Notes from a first-time cruiser
Short and sweet cruising
Making the most of a short cruise

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