Pacific Adventure – Carnival Splendor – 22 August 2022
Australia is regularly voted one of the world’s top cruise destinations. Some say it’s the endless summer weather or the oversupply of beautiful beaches. But Sydney’s scenic, natural harbor and iconic landmarks, including the opera house and Harbour Bridge take some beating.
Best Time for Australia Cruises
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.
Australia Cruise Itineraries
Most Australian cruises focus on destinations that include New Caledonia, Port Vila, Port Denarau, or Auckland with a few occasionally venturing as far as Samoa, Tonga, Honolulu, and Tahiti.
Of the cruises that don’t visit international ports, most head north toward the endless sunshine and sand of Queensland. Visiting Newcastle, Brisbane, Cairns, and Moreton Island, with some itineraries including a host of evolving destinations. The Whitsundays and both Port Douglas and Cooktown in far north Queensland are just a couple of examples.
Best Shore Excursions
The Great Barrier Reef:
Cruises through the world-famous coral reef are popular. However, you will need to spend a bit more time ashore at ports like Townsville or Cairns to really appreciate the area. 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 experiences.
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 of New Zealand, more of Vanuatu and New Caledonia, and some of Samoa and Tonga, with occasional forays as far as French Polynesia and Hawaii.