Asia Australia & South Africa from Southampton – Queen Mary 2 – 11 January 2024
Endless golden beaches stretching as far as the eye can see, a spectacular rugged outback, and a coral reef so huge it can be seen from outer space are just a few reasons why a cruise to Australia is unforgettable. It’s no secret that the continent boasts some of the most spectacular beaches on the planet, with white sand shorelines often exceeding hundreds of kilometers (spoiler: you won’t have to jostle for beach towel space here), but few travelers have the opportunity to dive into its tropical rainforests in the north, or the ochre-colored desert in Australia’s center. Home to indigenous Aboriginal people for more than 65,000 years before a European stepped ashore, Australia’s breath-taking landscapes are full of fascinating ancient traditions and spiritual customs. But the country has a thriving modern city scene, too, with Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne boasting world-class restaurants, innovative cocktail bars, and sleek architecture. Tired of umbrellas and thermal underwear at home? Australia is the driest inhabited continent with an average annual rainfall of less than 500 mm. Happy days.
Best Places to Visit
Sydney. One of Australia’s largest and liveliest cities, the capital of New South Wales is world-famous for its iconic Opera House, Harbour Bridge, and all manner of urban treasures in between. The city is perfect for Australian cruisers as its vast harbour alone is an aquatic playground so big it has its own national park. The Sydney Harbour National Park boasts harbour islands, more than 240km of shoreline, and secluded beaches – some of the most beautiful in the city.
Brisbane. Known as Australia’s Sunshine State, the capital of Queensland is a laid-back luxury, personified. With a flourishing restaurant, bar, and shopping scene, it has all the energy of Sydney, but with a small-town feel and much shorter queues. Brisbane is a river town, so one of the best ways to see the sights is to jump on the City Cat and explore areas like New Farm, Bulimba, South Bank, and West End from the waterway.
A hipster haven, Melbourne is said to be Australia’s most European-style city. Grab a flat black (the Australian version of an Americano, with espresso and hot water), do some people watching at Federation Square, learn about Aboriginal arts and culture at Koorie Heritage Trust, stroll among the palms at the Royal Botanic Gardens or take an unforgettable day trip to the Yarra Valley for rolling vineyards and the chance to sample world-class Chardonnay.
Hobart. The island of Tasmania – or ‘Tassie’ to locals – lies due south of Australia, separated from the mainland by the Bass Strait. An official Australian state, Tasmania is thought to have been occupied by indigenous people for 30,000 years before British colonization. Its capital city Hobart is a beautiful place to explore. On a stop along your Australia cruise, you can soak up the sublime scenery around Port Arthur, wander through narrow lanes full of colonial-style architecture in Battery Point, or browse the boutiques and restaurants in buzzing Salamanca Place.
Cairns. Located in northern Queensland, Cairns is the gateway to two of Australia’s most awe-inspiring sights; the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest. These two UNESCO World Heritage Sites draw international tourists year-round and it’s easy to see why. Take the Sky rail Cableway to hike through the tropical rainforest, the oldest in the world, with its lush green canopy and thick jungle. Or join one of the regular half-day trips to Green Island and be snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s seven natural wonders.