Australia & Asia from Sydney – Royal Princess – 2 April 2024
Australia is regularly voted one of the world’s top cruise destinations. Why? Some say it’s the endless summer weather or the oversupply of beaches. Others suggest it could be Sydney’s scenic, natural Harbor and iconic landmarks, including the opera house and Harbour Bridge.
Australia is also much more than just Sydney. Coastal cruises visit the other major port cities and open opportunities to venture inland to wineries, national parks, tourist attractions and shopping precincts. Beyond the urban sprawl, there are vast mountain ranges, UNESCO World Heritage natural and historic sites, cultural and Indigenous attractions, and a world of fun for both adrenaline seekers and those who prefer a more relaxed or cultural experience
Best Time to Go
Australia is a year-round cruise destination, although the so-called “Wave Season” (October to April) is when Aussies go particularly cruise-crazy, and you’ll find the greatest choice of departures, vessels, and itineraries. While winters (June to August) in the southern states can be chilly, you won’t need snowshoes or thermal undies. Summers (December through February) can be hot — darned hot — so if you’re visiting over the Christmas period, be prepared with wide-brimmed hats, sunscreen, and water bottles for those days when temperatures get into the 30s Celsius (high 80s and 90s Fahrenheit).
Sydney offers most of the departures, but Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and increasingly Fremantle (Perth) also feature local stalwart P&O, its ships venturing down to Tasmania and across to South Australia. For locals, the choice of both vessel and destination is expanding rapidly. For visitors, cruising in Australia presents three basic options: to, from, and within.
Circumnavigation of Australia. In recent years, Princess, Holland America, and Cunard have offered complete circumnavigations. These sell out well in advance, however, as they present a superb opportunity to see every port in the country, and they’re popular with local cruisers.
Great Barrier Reef. Cruises through the world-famous coral reef are popular, but if you want a true “Finding Nemo” experience, you’ll need to spend a bit more time ashore at ports like Townsville or Cairns. Big-ship cruises along the Queensland coast will offer day trip opportunities for reef-snorkeling and diving, but small-ship operator Coral Princess offers the most immersive overnight experience.
Kimberley and Australia’s Northwest. Itineraries have been developed to incorporate a growing number of ports of call in Tasmania, Victoria, and South Australia seasonally. Popular destinations include Burnie, Hobart, Port Arthur, Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula, Portland, Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, and Port Lincoln. South of Sydney, near the border with Victoria, Eden is also a new port of call that appears occasionally on itineraries, while in Western Australia, itineraries from Fremantle (Perth) venture south to scenic Margaret River or Esperance, or north to Geraldton, Exmouth, and tropical Broome.
The South Pacific. One of the most popular local choices is a cruise to or from an Australian homeport to the islands of the South Pacific. Departures are mostly from Sydney but also increasingly from Brisbane and Melbourne. Traditionally, the well-worn route pioneered by P&O across the Tasman to the South Pacific included Fiji, Noumea, Auckland, and Port Vila, but it has been expanded to include all New Zealand, more of Vanuatu and New Caledonia, and some of Samoa and Tonga, with occasional forays as far as French Polynesia and Hawaii.
New Zealand. Most local cruise lines cross the Tasman to New Zealand each summer, including P&O, Holland America, Cunard, Celebrity, and Princess. Itinerary options include shorter one-way trips from Sydney or Melbourne to Auckland, or the reverse, or longer roundtrip cruises that also take in the spectacular Fiordland on the South Island.