Cruise to Australia

Wide shot of a woman standing ankle-deep in crystal clear blue ocean water

Australia cruises: Your guide to sailing Down Under

  • Young couple drinking cocktails sitting under Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • Two women happily walking and splashing through the surf in the early afternoon
  • Scuba diver investigating coral in clear ocean water

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Frequently asked questions

There are around 30 cruise ports in Australia, dotted all the way around the coast. Sydney is the country’s largest port, with two terminals in the harbour welcoming hundreds of ships each year. In NSW, cruises regularly visit Newcastle, which is close to the Hunter Valley wine region, and the pretty town of Eden on the far south coast. In Queensland, cruises visit Brisbane, the Whitsunday Islands and Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Fraser Island and Moreton Island. You can also venture further north to the remote outposts of Cape York and the Torres Strait Islands, which are almost entirely untouched by tourism. Along the southern coast of Australia, popular ports include Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula, Hobart, Adelaide and Kangaroo Island. Darwin in the Northern Territory is close to the famed Kakadu National Park and a great jumping off point for cruises to Indonesia.

More cruise lines are now visiting Western Australia, calling at Perth, Bunbury and Exmouth, where you can swim with whale sharks. The remote Kimberley region along the northern edge of Western Australia is also becoming popular for expedition cruising, with smaller ships taking passengers through its spectacular natural landscapes. These cruises will sail between Darwin and Broome. 

An Australian cruise is a great way to get a taste of life at sea. You can start with a short cruise of just three or four nights, which will usually take you on a round trip from your departure point with one or two stops. For example, a popular four-night cruise from Sydney travels north along the coast, stops at Moreton Island (off Brisbane) for one day and then returns to Sydney. Longer cruises can run for seven, 14 or 21 days, taking you to more ports and states. If you want to complete a full circumnavigation of Australia, you’ll be cruising for around 25-30 days. 

Cruises operate year-round in Australia, so you can set sail whenever you like. The busiest time is during the warmer months between November and April, which is known as the Wave Season. This period has the most departures and is when many international ships will visit our waters. Spring and autumn have the most pleasant weather and you will be sailing under warm, sunny skies. Remember that school holidays will always be busy and there will be lots of families sailing, so avoid these times if you’d like a bit of peace and quiet. The cruise season in the Kimberley runs from April to October with April and May being the best months to see the waterfalls in full force after the wet season.

Yes, most cruise lines can cater to dietary restrictions. Larger cruise ships will have multiple restaurants on board, so you will have options when looking for menus featuring things like vegetarian or gluten free. If you have more specific or unusual needs, speak to your travel agent when you book and find out if you can submit requests early. The crew and your waiter will also be able to assist on board.

Themed cruises are very popular in Australia, so you will be able to find something fun and quirky to suit your interests. There are cruises themed around country music, Elvis Presley, popular eras like the 80s and 90s, disco, comedy and sporting events like the Melbourne Cup. Australian music themed cruises may even have famous local artists on board. These cruises tend to be short, usually around four or five days, and there are lots of fun activities, decorations and passengers in full costume.

Yes, if you are not an Australian citizen or living here under an approved visa, you will need a tourist visa for an Australian cruise. This applies whether you are flying into an Australian city to begin your cruise or you are arriving by sea when your ship sails into Australian waters. Australian citizens and residents to not need a visa for cruises that only visit Australian ports, even if you sail into international waters.

The whole family will love an Australian cruise. Onboard many of the larger ships sailing here you’ll find family-friendly fun in the form of swimming pools, waterslides, waterparks, sports courts and outdoor games. Most ships have kids’ clubs with separate groups for each age group, ranging from toddlers to teens. They will also host movie nights, interactive game shows and Broadway-style musicals. Most of the ports around Australia will also offer shore excursions suitable for the whole family, from cycling and bushwalks to snorkelling, animal encounters and outdoor adventures.

Certainly! Natural wonders are a highlight of many Australian itineraries. Cruises along the Queensland coast will take you into the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, where you can snorkel, dive and paddle above spectacular technicolour coral. Along the southern edge of Australia, a number of cruise ships now visit Kangaroo Island, considered one of the most biodiverse environments in the country. Visit huge seal colonies, spot koalas in the trees and cruise alongside curious dolphins. The Kimberley region in Western Australia is one of the world’s last true wilderness areas and expedition ships cruising here will visit rugged coastline and isolated archipelagos.

Many of the world’s largest and most advanced ships are cruising in Australian waters, so you can expect a huge range of entertainment and things to do on board. The whole family will enjoy the swimming pools, waterslides, sports courts, mini golf and more. There are also quieter spaces, like games rooms and libraries, are kids’ clubs suitable for young children and teens. Be entertained with live music, theatre, comedy and interactive game shows, as well as regular movies – sometimes screened outside by the pool. There may also be entertainment focused on Australian culture and local performers.

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