Montgomery Reef, Kimberley, Western Australia © True North

Montgomery Reef, Kimberley, Western Australia © True North

Montgomery Reef, Kimberley, Western Australia © True North

Mandingalbay Ancient Indigenous Tours

Mandingalbay Ancient Indigenous Tours

Frequently asked questions

Yes. You can arrive in Australia on an international cruise, and enjoy a wide variety of domestic cruises within Australia. The greatest concentration of cruises lies along the east and southeast coasts of the mainland and Tasmania, but even remote areas of the continent are visited by expedition ships. Cruises range in length from short breaks of just a few days to 30-day circumnavigations of the whole continent. You can go big (some ships carry 6,000 passengers) or small, with some cruise ships hosting 100 passengers or fewer.

Among large-ship companies operating in Australia are AzamaraCarnival Cruise Line, CunardCelebrity CruisesDisney Cruise LineHolland America LineNorwegian Cruise LinePrincess Cruises Lines and Royal Caribbean International. Mid- and smaller-sized luxury cruise lines include Oceania CruisesPonantRegent Seven Seas Cruises, SeabournSilversea and Windstar Cruises. P&O Cruises Australia is headquartered in Sydney. Australia also has a few home-grown, small-ship cruise lines such as Coral ExpeditionsOn Board Tasmanian Expedition Cruises and True North.

Cruise ships sail the entire Australian coastline. You also have a great variety of cruising destinations, whether you’re looking for sand and snorkelling, rust-red outback gorges or temperate southern coastlines where sea lions bask.

Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Fremantle (near Perth), Melbourne and Sydney are the major port hubs for large and medium-sized cruise ships. Small expedition ships also sail from Broome, Hobart and Darwin.

Cruises in Australia typically start and finish in the same port, but by no means all. A cruise can be a good way to connect two land journeys in Australia, such as the east and west coasts, or the southern cities and Queensland’s reefs and islands.

The main cruise season is over summer between November and March, popularly referred to as Wave Season. This is the time when big budget and smaller luxury cruise ships arrive from overseas, so you’ll find the biggest choice of cruises. Given the season’s popularity, it’s best to book well in advance.

Although more ships sail during summer, you can cruise in Australia year-round. Queensland is popular over winter (December to February), and the sailing season for the Kimberley, Western Australia’s expedition destination, runs from April to October.

There are plenty of options for family-friendly cruises in Australia. Queensland cruises are particularly family-oriented thanks to abundant opportunities for beach life and water sports, and family-friendly attractions in Cairns, Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast. Big ships focus not just on destinations but the shipboard entertainment experience. Children will find plenty of distractions such as swimming pools, water slides and kids’ clubs, while adults can enjoy spa treatments, cocktail bars and shows.

More mature teenagers at ease in adult company might also enjoy expedition and luxury cruises, which have few (or no) activities aimed specifically at children.

There are cruise options to suit all budgets, ranging from around AUD$100 a night per person to upwards of AUD$1,000 a night per person. Generally speaking, larger ships are more budget-friendly but the fare includes only accommodation and food in main dining venues. Luxury ships tend to be all-inclusive, so you often won’t pay extra for specialty dining, beverages, internet access or shore excursions.

Yes. In fact, an island continent with so many stunning but remote destinations is made for expedition cruises. These cruises allow you access to staggering landscapes few have seen, without the hardship of getting there on your own.

The destination with the greatest expedition options is the Kimberley in northwest Australia. The coast has no roads at all, and an expedition cruise gets you amid a thousand islands and reefs, soaring orange gorges and thundering waterfalls. The Kimberley also has an exceptional array of ancient rock art.

Two other expedition destinations are Tasmania and the northern regions of Queensland. There are also some expedition cruises along Western Australia’s Coral Coast and the rugged peninsulas of South Australia.

Among expedition companies operating in Australia are APTCoral ExpeditionsHeritage ExpeditionsLindblad ExpeditionsOn Board Tasmanian Expedition CruisesPonantSilversea and True North.

Only one river in Australia has overnight cruises, but it offers the chance to explore inland and provides insight into the Aboriginal and early European history of Australia. The Murray River runs along the border of New South Wales and Victoria and into South Australia through rolling countryside and wetlands teeming with bird life. Cruises typically take in ancient Indigenous sites, colonial-era settlements, old homesteads and cellar doors. They often include sheep-shearing shows, bush barbecues, nature walks and live music events.

Cruises typically depart from Echuca in Victoria, or from Blanchetown and Mannum in South Australia. Boutique operators Emmylou CruisesMurray Princess and Proud Mary sail river cruises along the Murray.

There are so many reasons to cruise Australia. It’s a stress-free way to travel, with the logistics taken care of for you. Plus, with an on-board room to come back to each evening, you can focus your days on exploring Australia’s many epic destinations.

Some visitors may find cruising a more comfortable way to see rugged destinations such as the Kimberley or Cape York, which otherwise require four-wheel driving and camping. Cruising also links scattered islands in places such as Queensland. The ship transports you overnight, leaving you time to explore new ports each day and pack multiple destinations into a single trip.