Cruise to Queensland

Drone shot of a lady standing on a large rock in shallow, blue water

Queensland Cruises: Your guide to cruising the iconic Australian coastline

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  • Lady resting on a hike through a national park

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Frequently asked questions

Golden beaches, azure waters, technicolour reefs and tropical islands are just some of the main attractions on a Queensland cruise. The Great Barrier Reef is top of the list for most cruisers and a highlight of many cruise itineraries. You’ll be able to swim, snorkel or dive on the world’s largest reef system, coming face to face with fish, manta rays, sea turtles, giant clams and dolphins. Island hop through the 74 islands of the Whitsundays, the world’s largest sand island K’gari (Fraser Island) or the remote Torres Strait Islands. You can head inland to discover pristine rainforest, spot curious koalas and learn the stories of the world’s oldest living culture. You’ll also get to experience some of the state’s major cities, like the buzzy capital of Brisbane, the holiday hotspot of the Gold Coast and the laid back city of Cairns in the far north.

Queensland is renowned for its year-round gorgeous weather, so it’s always a good time for a cruise in the Sunshine State. The busiest period is from October to April, which coincides with the state’s wet season, and you’ll find lots of big international ships in the water and at the larger ports. Even though it’s the wet season, rain is generally restricted to short but powerful storms. The peak summer months of December to January can be very hot and humid, especially in the tropical north. Be aware that marine stingers (jellyfish) are found in Queensland’s waters from October to May, so you’ll need to wear a special stinger suit when swimming or snorkelling.

Your family is going to love a Queensland cruise. Onboard, the kids will enjoy fun facilities like swimming pools, waterparks, sports courts, games rooms, arcades and entertainment. There are also kids’ clubs tailored for specific ages on most larger ships sailing in the region.  Some of the most family-friendly ships sailing in Queensland are Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas, Carnival Luminosa and P&O Cruises Pacific Encounter. On shore, the whole family will want to experience the world-class snorkelling, rainforest walks, adventure activities and beautiful beaches.

Most cruises include all meals, with a selection of onboard restaurants and different cuisines. On larger ships, specialty restaurants may attract an additional fee, but it’s always free to eat at the buffet or main dining room. Many ships sailing around Queensland will tailor their menus to feature local produce, fresh seafood and Australian specialties. The only exception here is if you’re chartering a private yacht – you may need to arrange your own provisioning before you set sail.

Queenslanders love a bit of luxury and that carries across to the water as well. Many of the world’s top luxury cruise lines sail here, offering spacious suites with verandas (for those blissful island views), excellent food and wine, indulgent spas, high-tech facilities and next-level service. Lines to look for include Seabourn, Silversea, Regent Seven Seas, Crystal Cruises, Ponant and Oceania. You can also charter a private superyacht if you’d prefer to explore the region in celebrity style. These boats are like a floating five-star hotel with spacious ensuite cabins, sun decks with day beds, water toys like jetskis, and an attentive crew who will cater for your every need.

s long as you like! You can set off from Brisbane, Cairns or Airlie Beach for a short cruise of just three or four days. One- or two-week cruises will take you along the length of the Queensland coast or to multiple islands. Or you can charter a yacht and explore this glorious region at your own pace.

Yes, many cruises will integrate Australian culture into their onboard entertainment. That could mean local performers and live music, Indigenous performances, classes and workshops, and Australian culinary experiences. Special themed cruises also run regularly from Brisbane that are dedicated to Aussie music or local comedy stars and are packed with eager fans.

Comfort and (keeping) cool are going to be your keywords when packing for a Queensland cruise. Light layers and long sleeves are ideal for scorching summer sun and mosquito protection. A swimsuit or two, hat, sunglasses and sunscreen are also essentials, as are sturdy walking shoes if you plan to explore on shore. In the cooler months, it’s a good idea to bring a light jumper or jacket. Don’t worry about equipment like snorkels, flippers and stinger suits; they will be provided on shore excursions or guided tours.

Absolutely! Did you know the Great Barrier Reef alone is home to more than 1,600 species of fish? Marine wildlife flourishes all along the coast of Queensland, with dolphins, whales, manta rays, sharks, sea turtles and much more. Snorkel with a potato cod or snap a selfie with a giant blue Maori wrasse off Lady Elliot Island and look for Nemo amongst the brightly coloured corals at Agincourt Reef. If you don’t want to get wet, many places offer glass-bottom boat tours or underwater viewing chambers for you to catch a glimpse. At Moreton Island, off the coast of Brisbane and south of the Great Barrier Reef, you might even be lucky enough to spot the rare and endangered dugong. The Moreton Bay Marine Park is the only place in the world where you can see these elusive creatures so close to a capital city.

Brisbane is the largest cruise port in Queensland and is well connected by air, road and rail. Brisbane Airport is just 15 minutes from the terminal. Cairns is also a popular cruise departure point and has its own international airport. For Whitsunday Island cruises, fly into Whitsunday Coast Airport at Proserpine, which is just 25 minutes from Airlie Beach. There is also an airport on Hamilton Island, where a number of Whitsunday cruises depart from.

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