For a long weekend away, you’re most likely looking at a majorly long drive or having to deal with the hassle of airport security to get to your destination; both of which dig into your precious three day break.
But what if the journey there was part of the holiday? And I'm not talking about road trip sing-alongs with the girls!
I was able to spend a recent long weekend up in sunny Mooloolaba, Queensland, by simply getting myself and my luggage to Sydney's Circular Quay. Who would've thought?
I'd never been on a cruise before I got to board the Pacific Explorer, courtesy of P&O Cruises Australia, on behalf of Be.
When I thought of cruising, people roaming around a ship in socks and sandals, bad buffet food and a lot of ear-piercing karaoke, sprung to mind.
But most of the stereotypes I had were thrown out the window when I stepped on board.
I mean, there was still some bad karaoke (which I am guilty of taking part in) and many cruise-goers wearing socks with sandals, but that may just be their fashion preferences. Who am I to judge?
The first misconception I'd had was about the food. The food we ate, all of it, was to die for.
There were over 12 dining options including pan-Asian, Italian and Aussie barbeque, making it hard to find something that wouldn't tempt your tastebuds.
With staff working throughout the night to make sure all 1,900 guests are fed and satisfied, you would expect food to be pre-made and not the freshest. Wrong.
The bread was made daily, with all desserts, all sauces, all meats locally sourced in Australia. Absolutely everything was freshly made.
And if you think being stuck on a ship would get boring very quickly, you’re wrong again.
There were so many activities for all ages and all tastes. You could take a dip by the pool, fly down the waterslides, zip down the zipwire on the top deck. There were barefoot bowls, aerobics, spa time, and more.
When the lights go down at sea, that’s when the real party began, with numerous bars on board.
I definitely took advantage of the ship's nightclub, The Blue Room, to enjoy a bit of (bad) dancing.
Guests could also dabble in a bit of karaoke (always a hoot), or watch the many cabaret shows they put on. If you’re lucky enough you might get to watch the risqué contortionist show, Love Riot.
Warning: it involves a lot of gymnasts in tight latex and there are a lot of sexual references, but if you love that sort of stuff this is the show for you.
The dancers/contortionists/circus workers, whatever you’d call them, perform Love Riot exclusively for P&O and it was directed by Scott Maidment, one of the creative masterminds behind Madonna’s most recent Rebel Heart Tour.
At this point, because there is so much going on, you might almost forget you are actually heading up to Mooloolaba.
Of course, there are also many activities you can choose to do when you head to shore once the ship docks in Queensland for the day, and the group I was with opted for swimming with humpback whales.
It was, by far, one of the most incredible experiences of my life.
The experts from Sunreef who took us out did the whole disclaimer that we “might not see any whales” and “that it just depends on the day”.
Well, oh boy, we were in for a real treat. Even the crew that took us out were gobsmacked that we were all able to experience swimming with not one, but two humpback whales. Even better, it was a mother with her newborn calf.
To get a taste of the full experience, watch the video above.
The whole package with P&O Cruises Australia gives you so much to do if you’re looking for an easy getaway for a long weekend with friends or your partner. Prices start at $450 per person.
Just be warned: you still might feel like you're at sea even a couple of days after your feet are firmly back on the ground. I definitely felt some sea-swaying when I was back in my own bed.
So, if this seems like a trip for you all I can say is: Welcome aboard, matey.