From exotic marine life to rich native cultures, an Australia cruise offers more than just a luxury vacation - it offers a glimpse into a different world. With extensive itinerary options and a variety of cruise lines to choose from, both novice and experienced passengers can find the perfect Australian getaway for their next cruise vacation.
When to take an Australia Cruise
The first thing prospective passengers need to consider when planning a cruise to Australia is that the seasons are reversed in the southern hemisphere. While there are cruise options available throughout the year, the majority of voyages take place during the winter (October through March) - that is, during Australia's summer. This makes cruising to Australia an attractive and unique option for winter cruises.
The typical length of an Australia cruise ranges from 10-15 nights, although many itineraries may stretch for three weeks or longer, depending on the ship's other destinations. Because there are only a few major ports in Australia, most cruise lines offer extended voyages that also visit New Zealand, the Orient, or other South Pacific locations in conjunction with stops in Australia. Many voyages are one-way, beginning on one coast of the nation and visiting several ports en route to the other coast. For adventurous cruisers, there are a number of local options as well, including river and interior waterway cruises that are not called on by international cruise lines.
Several cruise lines also offer interior cruise tour packages that combine stays on land with the cruise itself for a longer, more intimate look at Australia and the famous Australian Outback. These packages vary in length, destination, and price, and they are not a part of a standard cruise fare.
Many different cruise lines offer Australian itineraries, with the most voyages found on Princess, Celebrity, and Holland America ships year round. Other cruise lines featuring the occasional Australia cruise include:
- Radisson Seven Seas Cruises
- Seabourn Cruises
- Silversea Cruises
- Cunard Cruise Line
- Discovery World Cruises
- Quark Expeditions
Clearly, the majority of lines servicing Australian waters are high-end, mainstream, and luxury lines that offer not only choice destinations but also superior service for every passenger.
Embarkation Ports for an Australia Cruise
Depending on the length of cruise and the overall itinerary, embarkation ports vary. The three major origination cities for general Australian cruises are:
- Sydney: With the famous arched Harbor Bridge and architecturally distinct opera house, Sydney is one of the most well-known Australian ports. Beaches, mountains, botanical gardens, museums, and dozens of shopping opportunities make it the perfect place to get a head start on a fabulous cruise vacation.
- Melbourne: Multiple shore excursions explore the colorful history of Melbourne, with steam train, riverboat, and bush tours available, including the popular aboriginal heritage walk and haunted variations. Beginning a cruise here guarantees that passengers understand the nation's unique history.
- Brisbane: Located on the eastern Gold Coast of Australia, Brisbane features more natural attractions to entice cruisers, including a koala sanctuary and a detailed observatory. Several notable historic sites and other points of interest are also great places to visit to acclimate to Australian culture before embarking on a cruise.
Australian Ports of Call
Ports of call vary with each cruise itinerary, length, and overall cruise line. While some voyages only visit the nation's principal ports, others will explore more remote regions of the country. Larger ships typically stay on the Pacific side of Australia, where deeper harbors can easily accommodate generous sizes. The more remote the port, the more likely only small ships or shore tours will visit. In addition to the embarkation ports (which may be ports of call on longer voyages originating in other nations), key destinations in Australia include:
- Hobart: Located in Tasmania, Hobart is the site of Port Arthur, Australia's last penal settlement, where visitors can experience the nation's origins. Other exploration options include historic tours, eco tours, winery visits, pub crawls, and wildlife sanctuaries.
- Adelaide: Along Australia's southern coast, this lively city has fascinating architecture and the highest proportion of restaurants of any city in the country, making it a fabulous destination for culinary connoisseurs. Winery tours and historical walks are other sightseeing options.
- Darwin: Centrally located on the northern coast, Darwin is home to a rare sight: the famous (or infamous) leaping crocodiles. Visitors can see these intriguing creatures on a number of tours, and less adventurous excursion options are also offered.
- Great Barrier Reef: Though not a single destination, the Great Barrier Reef is a collection of more than 3,000 reefs that are home to more than 400 coral species along the northeast coast of Queensland. With some of the most breathtaking scuba diving and snorkeling sites in the world, the Great Barrier Reef can be accessed from numerous nearby cities and ports, including Cid Harbour, Cairns, and Whitsunday.
With a rich history and many stunning natural and historical features, Australia is an ideal cruise destination for discriminating passengers interested in unique itineraries and winter voyages. While it may not be the right choice for every traveler, an Australia cruise is sure to be a memorable and enjoyable vacation.