With a seemingly endless supply of beaches and gorgeous coastline, iconic landscapes, and warm weather, it’s no wonder Australia attracts a good market share of the cruise industry. If you’re looking to take a trip “down under” and explore Australia on a cruise, there is no shortage of options.
P&O Australia: A Taste of Tasmania
P&O Australia specializes in cruises around Australia and to New Zealand. They are the nation’s largest cruise line with five ships cruising from eight home ports in Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore.
One of the most popular options is A Taste of Tasmania, which can range from five to eight nights. This cruise, which starts from just over $600 per person, based on four-person room, is round trip from Melbourne with stops in:
- Hobart: Tasmania’s capital offering excursions like walking tours, wine tasting, wildlife sanctuaries, and more
- Port Arthur: Becoming a popular stop for Tasmania cruises and offering a variety of excursions like visits to a lavender farm, daytime ghost tour, and an eco-adventure cruise
- Burnie: West coast region of Tasmania with lots of wildlife and historical tours
Amenities and Considerations
P&O’s cruises include the same standard amenities as many other cruise ships. Look for nice touches like a la carte menus available for breakfast and lunch at some restaurants. They offer a wide range of entertainment options, lots of bars, pubs, and nightclubs, as well as ample entertainment and activities.
It’s important to note that they cater primarily to local Australians, so everything operates with Australian dollars, power outlets are Australian, and there is no tipping required.
Ideal for Families
Those looking for the best family fun should consider P&O with its largest adventure park at sea. There are lots of amenities and services available that are geared toward families-they even have a whole section on their website devoted to family travel and onboard activities like laser tag and karaoke.
Princess Cruises: Great Barrier Reef
Although 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.
For this particular 10-day itinerary with Princess Cruises, you sail round trip from Sydney with stops in:
- Willis Island
- Port Douglas
- Yorkie’s Knob
- Airlie Beach
Scenic cruising past Willis Island is a unique stop as this small island of 1,600 feet by 490 feet is the only inhabited island in the Coral Sea Islands Territory. However, the only structure is a weather station with only a few weather observers residing there at any time. Your stop in Airlie Beach is the gateway to the Whitsunday Archipelago, which consists of 74 islands lined with reefs, calm lagoons, and beautiful beaches.
Prices start on this cruise around $1, 100 US per person, and don’t include taxes, fees, and port expenses of $187. Included in the fare are dining, room service, water, tea, lemonade, and non-specialty beverages.
Short Cruises Down Under
Princess offers a variety of two-day to four-day options out of Australia from ports like Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and even one from New Zealand to Australia. Interior staterooms start around $244 to $425. Prices are per person, based on double occupancy, and don’t include taxes, fees, and port expenses, which are about $35 on a three-day cruise from Sydney to Melbourne.
These are great cruises for people who only want to spend a few days on the water and explore other parts of Australia. Some are round trip (Brisbane), but you could consider a short cruise like these to transit to other parts of Australia-in some cases, it might be cheaper than a flight within the country!
Longer Options Too
If you’re hoping for a longer cruise, Princess mostly specializes in combo land and sea tours. These range anywhere from 17 days to 31 days and may include a variety of other countries and destinations, including New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and more. These are great options if you prefer a guided land tour and have plenty of vacation time.
Royal Caribbean: From Hawaii
Royal Caribbean runs a number of cruises in Australia, including some Trans-Pacific options out of Hawaii. The 19-night itinerary on Radiance of the Seas includes stops in:
- Honolulu (departure port)
- Papeete, Bora Bora, and Moorea in French Polynesia
- Wellington and Picton, New Zealand
- Sydney, Australia (arrival port)
This is a great cruise for people who want to experience a Trans-Pacific crossing. You’ll stop in exotic ports like Bora Bora and Moorea, then you’ll have several days at sea and get to cross the International Date Line, with your next stops in New Zealand and finally Australia.
For travelers with a lot of time off, this is a fantastic way to explore French Polynesia and New Zealand, without the added cost of expensive air fare. All you need to do is a get a return ticket from Sydney, which can cut down on costs visiting this expensive part of the world. And, for those who aren’t keen on the extra-long flights needed to get there, you only need to worry about making that journey back now since you arrived in Sydney via cruise ship.
The price per person, based on double occupancy, starts at $2,479, not including taxes, fees, and port expenses of $160.
Fun for the Whole Family
Despite all the days at sea, this is a great cruise for families. Royal Caribbean offers the Adventure Ocean youth program which is packed full of stuff for kids of all ages, like pajama nights, scavenger hunts, and science experiments. No kid will be bored on this long ocean crossing.
Norwegian Cruises: Australia and New Zealand
A terrific itinerary with Norwegian is the 13-day Australia and New Zealand cruise, which offers a solo cruiser discount. This round-trip cruise from Sydney includes stops in:
- Burnie, Tasmania
- Wellington, Napier, Tauranga, Auckland, and Bay of Islands, New Zealand
These popular ports let you visit where The Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed, learn about Maori culture, and look for flying dolphins and penguins.
Rates for this cruise start at $2,656 per person. Norwegian offers premium all-inclusive cruising, which includes some alcoholic beverages, specialty coffees, soft drinks and bottled water, and all tips related to the all-inclusive services.
Great Option for Solo Cruisers
Cruise Critic named Norwegian its top pick for solo travelers wanting a cruise in Australia. Some ships have studio cabins or offer discounts for solo travelers. Voted Porthole Magazine’s Best Cruise Line for Solo Travelers for five years in a row, Norwegian offers a number of opportunities to meet people aboard each sailing. There are singles meet-ups, bar crawls around the ship, and more.
Around the World Cruises
Many around-the-world cruises include a stop in some part of Australia as part of the itinerary. Cruise Critic has a great article on all the around the world cruises happening in 2018 and 2019. They include a breakdown of each itinerary, including how many nights for each segment.
Storied Treasures and Captivating Journeys
One of the more interesting options for 2018 is Crystal Cruises’ Storied Treasures & Captivating Journeys itinerary. You’ll get to sail on both the Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity’s full world cruises. With this 129-night cruise, you’ll have 12 nights of sailing just from Perth to Sydney alone. Australian ports of call include Broome, Geraldton, Fremantle/Perth, Banbury (Margaret River), Albany, Esperance, Great Australian Bight, Melbourne, Hobart, Burnie, Hamilton, Cairns, and Cooktown.
Other ports on this adventure include:
- Cape Town, South Africa (departure port)
- Mossel Bay, Durban, and Richards Bay, South Africa
- Maputo, Mozambique
- Taolagnaro, Madagascar
- Reunion Island, France
- Port Louis, Mauritius
- Alotau, Kitava, and Rabaul, Papua New Guinea
- Gizo, Solomon Islands
- Boracay, Romblin, and Manila, Philippines
- Hong Kong
- Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
- Sihanoukville, Cambodia
- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Phuket, Thailand
- Yangon, Myanmar
- Colombo, Sri Lanka
- Cochin, Managalore, and Mumbai, India
- Muscat and Salalah, Oman
- Doha, Qatar
- Abu Dhabi and Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- Petra, Jordan
- Luxor and Alexandria, Egypt
- Ashdod (Jerusalem), Israel
- Sorrento and Rome, Italy
Prices for this epic journey range from $63,975 to $119,365. Crystal Cruises offers an all-inclusive cruise experience with complimentary fine wines and premium spirits, gratuities for housekeeping, bar, dining, and more. Enjoy complimentary evenings of specialty dining venues (up to a certain number per trip), one of which includes the option for Nobu Matsuhisa’s Silk Road, the only sea faring restaurant from the world-renowned chef.
Tips for Cruising Australia
Because Australia is a popular cruising destination, it’s important you look as far ahead as possible to ensure you get the dates you want. Some cruises sell out over a year in advance, so finding a last minute option may be difficult or impossible in some cases.
Best Time of the Year
Cruises operate year-round in Australia, but the “Wave Season” is from October to April. This is when locals go cruise-crazy and you can find the largest selection of departures, ships, and itineraries. Remember that Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, so seasons are reversed with some of the coldest temperatures coming between June and August and some of the hottest weather in December through February.
Although they aren’t as much of a problem as in other parts of the world, Australia is subject to cyclones, with the biggest chances in March and April.
Visas and Travel Documents
You need to check visa requirements for Australia as most countries will need something in order to visit. Travelers from the United States and Canada need to apply online for an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). Many European passport holders need to apply online for the free eVisitor visa.
Why Cruise Australia?
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.