Short & sweet

Sydney welcoming Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary II.
Sydney welcoming Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary II. 

There are short cruises to suit every type of traveller, writes Sally Macmillan.

TWO-DAY SAMPLERS

The one-night "cruises to nowhere" are now a thing of the past, so unless you take a half-day Captain Cook cruise on Sydney Harbour (1800 804 843, captaincook.com.au) two-nighters from Sydney are the quickest cruises you can take.

Royalty: The refined QE and QM2 are perfect for some afternoon tea on the high seas.
Royalty: The refined QE and QM2 are perfect for some afternoon tea on the high seas. 

Cunard is offering two-night cruises from Sydney to Brisbane on Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary 2; QE departs March 2; fares start at $529, and QM2 departs March 14; fares start at $549.

Highlights: British-style ocean liners; traditional afternoon tea served in the Queen's Room; biggest library at sea.

Bookings: 13 24 41, see cunardline.com.au.

P&O Cruises has two-night cruises from Sydney to Melbourne on Pacific Pearl, departing April 16 (from $349) and Sydney to Brisbane on Pacific Jewel, departing June 27 (from $299).

Highlights: P&O Edge, a new adventure playground with 20 activities for thrill-seekers; Salt grill by Luke Mangan.

Bookings: 13 24 94, see pocruises.com.au.

Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas is dong a two-day Sydney round-trip on October 3, no ports of call; fares start at $412.

Highlights: Adults-only solarium and indoor-outdoor pool; rock-climbing wall; eight bars and lounges.

Bookings: 1800 754 500, see royalcaribbean.com.au.

Princess Cruises' Dawn Princess departs Sydney for Brisbane on May 18, fares start at $249.

Highlights: Four main dining venues plus pizzeria and wine bar, adults-only Sanctuary, Princess Theatre, Wheelhouse Bar.

Bookings: 13 24 88, see princess.com.

LONG WEEKEND (including flights)

It takes about 4½ hours to fly from Sydney to Fiji, and Captain Cook Fiji and Blue Lagoon Cruises both offer three-night cruises from Denarau Island, a 10-kilometre drive from Nadi Airport.

Captain Cook Fiji's MV Reef Endeavour, 30 passengers maximum) sails three-day round trips from Denarau to Mamanuca and the South Yasawa islands, departs every Saturday morning, returns Tuesday mornings. Fares start at $932.

Highlights: Traditional sevusevu ceremony, visit to a village school and church, onboard spa, reef snorkelling, glass-bottom boat trips.

Bookings: 02 9126 8160, see captaincook.com.fj.

Blue Lagoon Cruises' Fiji Princess accommodates up to 68 passengers and sails similar itineraries to Captain Cook's, including visits to Modriki and the Sacred Islands. Cruises depart every Monday and Friday from Denarau. Fares start at $1140.

Highlights: Tying up close enough to island beaches to swim ashore, learn Fijian basket weaving and cooking, sport fishing.

Bookings: +679 675 0500, see bluelagooncruises.com.

FIVE DAYS (including flights)

Fly to Vanuatu (about 3½ hours) and take a five-night cruise on Island Passage; or there are several three- or four-night cruises in 2014-2015 from Sydney that you could add a day or two pre- or post-cruise city fun.

Carnival Spirit (13 31 94, carnival.com.au); Diamond Princess and Sea Princess; Pacific Jewel and Pacific Pearl; Celebrity Solstice (three nights, October 23; 1800 754 500, celebritycruises.com); and True North (four nights, December 30; 08 91921 829, northstarcruises.com.au).

Island Escape Cruises' boutique, 24-passenger Island Passage has six five-night round-trip cruises from Port Vila in April and May; fares start at $2730.

Highlights: Scenic helicopter flight over reefs and volcanoes, snorkelling, fishing, kayaking.

Bookings: 1800 584 869, see islandescapecruises.com.

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