Cairns cruises destination information
|Cairns itinerary and upcoming sailing dates|
|Nov 30, 2019||Barrier Reef Discovery, 7 nights||from $1473|
|Oct 25, 2019||Barrier Reef Discovery, 7 nights||from $1491|
|Nov 16, 2019||Barrier Reef Discovery, 7 nights||from $1768|
|Jan 10, 2020||Barrier Reef Discovery, 7 nights||from $1872|
|Sep 8, 2020||Great Barrier Reef, 9 nights||from $1951|
|Oct 5, 2019||Barrier Reef Discovery, 7 nights||from $2011|
|Jan 11, 2020||Barrier Reef Discovery, 7 nights||from $2025|
|Feb 8, 2019||Barrier Reef Discovery, 7 nights||from $2050|
|Aug 30, 2019||Barrier Reef Discovery, 7 nights||from $2205|
|Oct 20, 2019||Darwin to Sydney, 7 Nights||from $1106|
|Aug 11, 2020||Barrier Reef Discovery, 10 nights||from $2209|
|Sep 7, 2019||Barrier Reef Discovery, 7 nights||from $2299|
|Jul 13, 2019||Barrier Reef Discovery, 7 nights||from $2325|
|Jul 20, 2020||Great Barrier Reef, 10 nights||from $2341|
|Nov 17, 2019||Queensland, 7 nights||from $2341|
|Jun 20, 2020||Barrier Reef Discovery, 7 nights||from $2395|
|Oct 3, 2020||Barrier Reef Discovery, 7 nights||from $2487|
|Jun 6, 2020||Barrier Reef Discovery, 7 nights||from $2487|
|Aug 1, 2020||Barrier Reef Discovery, 7 nights||from $2487|
|Apr 25, 2020||Barrier Reef Discovery, 7 nights||from $2565|
The Stunning Main Port of Cairns
Cairns is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef in Far North Queensland, Australia. Japanese tourists are especially catered for, with many shops' signs being written in Japanese, as well as English. The city is surrounded by rainforest and can be used as a gateway to destinations such as Kuranda and the Daintree.
Tender Port - Wheelchair access limited and some mobility may be required to board tenders.
Cruise Port: What to do in Cairns
Located on the coast of northern Queensland, Cairns offers plenty of things to do for cruise visitors. It is the ancestral home to the Gimuy Walubara Yidinji people and was colonised by Europeans as a gold port in 1876. Still operating as a port, it is also a hub for travel in Queensland and has grown into a fun place to be with a relaxed holiday vibe.
The grandly-named Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal on the city's waterfront plays host to the majority of visiting cruise ships, and two ships at a time can be docked there. Very big vessels may not fit into the channel and will dock offshore to tender passengers ashore. Often they will do this at Yorkey's Knob, a suburb in Cairns' northern beaches. Most will then provide a shuttle service to the town centre.
The cruise terminal has an information booth and staff who can help passengers to get their bearings.
Australian Dollars (AUD) are used in Cairns, and most cruisers will have had the opportunity to get their hands on some elsewhere, but will find it easy to do so in Cairns if not - the city is well used to international visitors. There's a Travelex currency exchange outlet on Spence Street not far from the cruise terminal, and plenty of ATMs scattered around. Credit cards can also be used in most shops and restaurants.
Local life and language
Take a deep breath and chill out - and you'll fit right in in Cairns! The relaxed atmosphere comes with the many holidaymakers and the hot sunshine, and it makes the city a wonderful addition to a cruise holiday. Cairns is a diverse place, with many visitors in residence at ony one time and also those who have moved there from overseas to work in the tourism industry. English is the primary language for all services and signage, as in the rest of Australia.
What to do in Cairns
Explore the Esplanade
If you are planning on a low-key day in Cairns itself, there's no better place to begin than at the Cairns Esplanade. It's a focal point for recreation, offering a long walking path along the waterfront, landscaped lawns and gardens, BBQs, public art and more. It hosts events and markets, and is also where you will find the city's beloved swimming lagoon.
The sandy-edged, chlorinated saltwater pool is free and open to the public, and makes a safe alternative to ocean swimming which comes with the risk of jellyfish and currents in the area around Cairns.
There are plenty of amazing Australian creatures you can get up close and personal with in Cairns, which is close to some of the country's most unique flora and fauna. Right in town is the Cairns Wildlife Dome, and a short drive north will bring you to the Kuranda Koala Gardens or Hartley's Crocodile Adventures. During whale season, which runs from July to August, there are plenty of providers to take you out on the water and spot humpback and minke whales.
Eat and drink
With so many people from all over Australia and the world congregating in Cairns to have fun, it's little wonder that there is a great dining and bar scene. You can spend a fun day trying out a local eatery or two, sharing a beer with locals and backpackers at a pub, and just enjoying the tropical urban atmosphere.
Enjoy the tropical greenery
Those interested in Queensland's flora can get amongst it without having to travel all the way to Daintree itself. In Cairns you can wander through some rainforest at the Centenary Lakes and City Botanic Gardens, Mount Whitfield Conservation Park near the airport, or Lake Placid Recreation Park between Cairns and Kuranda.
Cairns Holiday Specialists
Begin or end your incredible Cairns cruise with a city getaway. Make all your bookings through Cairns Holiday Specialists to guarantee your group a fantastic Australian experience. With a team of experienced explorers and lovers of travel, Cairns Holiday Specialists have all the inside knowledge on where to go, what to do, where to stay and what to experience in this tropical Queensland city. With the low-down on the most incredible tours, the best of the best accommodation, and a long list of must-see hot spots around the city, Cairns Holiday Specialists is your one-stop-shop for planning your visit to this northern hotspot. Disembark your Cairns cruise adventure and head straight into another one. Visit the Cairns Holiday Specialists contact page to start making your bookings today.
Hours: Give them a ring between 8:30am to 5:30pm
Phone: +61 7 4059 5959
Tee off in style at Paradise Palms, Cairns. The Paradise Palms course is an 18-hole championship golf course, whose members include some of Australia’s top professional golfers. But don’t let big-name talent put you off, this welcoming establishment offers casual rounds of golf to non-members - a perfect addition to your Cairns cruise. Paradise Palms also boasts a fantastic playground for the kids, a beautiful restaurant with delectable dishes and breathtaking resort accommodation. Visit Paradise Palms for a relaxing day of golf or head away on the ultimate weekend getaway. Located just 30 minutes from the Cairns ports, you’ll be sinking putts in no time.
Where: Paradise Palms Drive, Kewarra Beach, 4879, Queensland, Australia
Phone: +61 7 4059 9999
Popped the question on your recent Cairns cruise? Renewing your vows? Perhaps you’re celebrating a new addition to your family with a baby naming ceremony? Whatever the reason, Event Celebrant Darlene Woodward is keen to help you honour the special occasion. Darlene is a professional celebrant based in the heart of Cairns, and has a portfolio as long as a wedding to-do list. Specialising in modern weddings, commitment ceremonies and vow renewals, Darlene not only provides a spectacular service, but will meet with you for a free consultation so you can get to know each other without any obligations. Make your special day even more memorable by contacting Event Celebrant Darlene Woodward. Get in touch with Darlene by filling out the contact form on the Event Celebrant website, or give her a ring to begin planning your celebration.
Write: PO Box 15082, Edge Hill, Queensland, 4870, Australia
Phone: +61 414 315 350
Office Hours: Monday - Saturday, 9:00am - 9:00pm
Cairns Indigenous Art Fair
Put it in your diaries now: the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) is not one to be missed. Three days of incredible art installations which celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture are in store for you when you visit Cairns in July. Dedicated to supporting local artists, CIAF pride themselves on creating connections between cultures as they captivate and educate audiences with the beautiful artworks that wrap Australia in colour and culture. Learn about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, and support the incredible artists as they strive to make a living creating pieces that not only look great hanging on the wall, but speak in volumes of the stories behind the canvases. Plan your Cairns cruise around the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair and it’s bound to be a highlight of your travels.
When: Held annually on the second weekend in July
Where: Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal, Corner Wharf and Lake Streets, Cairns City, 4870, Queensland, Australia
Get off your cruise to Cairns and head to Birdworld Kuranda for a unique wildlife encounter in Australia’s beautiful Northern Queensland region. Entering the rainforest aviary, you will find a fantastic array of birds flying freely - around 75 different species, many of which are native to Australia. You can hand-feed parrots, have your photo taken with cockatoos, and just enjoy the vibrant colours of so many different feathered friends together in one place. Used to human contact, many of the birds are quite tame so visitors can get up close with them. The aviary is an attraction itself, beautifully landscaped with waterfalls and ponds to replicate the natural habitats of the birds. Guided tours are offered daily, and many combine a visit to Birdworld with the neighbouring Kuranda Koala Gardens and the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary for the full wildlife experience.
Where: 8 Rob Veivers Dr, Kuranda QLD 4881, Australia
Opening Hours: Daily 9am to 4pm, closed on Christmas day.
Kuranda Koala Gardens
Cuddling a koala is on any Australia bucket list, and here’s where you can do it when you cruise into Cairns. The Kuranda Koala Gardens is a premier wildlife attraction just 40 minutes’ drive from the city, focused on the most adorable of marsupials. You can truly cuddle one too, and get a photo to mark the occasion. The Gardens is one of the few places where visitors are allowed to hold koalas, and they operate under a strict government-regulated code of practice to prevent any harm to people and koalas alike. There is more than just cuddly koalas to make your visit interesting. At the Gardens you will also find freshwater crocodiles, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and reptiles. Combine the Koala Gardens Experience with a visit to nearby Birdworld and the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary for a hat trick of wildlife fun during your visit to Cairns.
Where: 2-4 Rob Veivers Dr, Kuranda QLD 4881, Australia
Opening Hours: Daily 9am to 4pm
Australian Butterfly Sanctuary
With their vibrant colours and fragile fluttering wings, butterflies are quite a sight to behold - and even more so when they are seen en masse! When you cruise into Cairns, make a trip out to the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary in Kuranda and visit the southern hemisphere’s biggest butterfly sanctuary and exhibit. The sanctuary is home to more than 200 incredible species of butterfly, so there is always a different one to see. As well as wandering amongst the colourful winged creatures, visitors can learn more about them at the educational exhibits and the onsite butterfly museum, take a guided tour, check out the laboratory and see caterpillars in their various stages of development, and pick up a souvenir at the gift shop. Many make it a hat trick and also spend time at the Kuranda Koala Gardens and Birdworld, and there are multi-park passes available.
Where: 8 Rob Veivers Dr, Kuranda QLD 4881, Australia
Opening Hours: Daily from 9:45am to 4pm. Closed Christmas day.
Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife Dome
If you’ve just disembarked your cruise to Cairns and don’t want to go too far for a good time, the Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife Dome is the attraction for you. It is a very short walk from the cruise terminal and close by downtown, on top of the Reef Hotel Casino - a very convenient location for all visitors. It offers a high ropes course in a wildlife park, perfect for thrillseekers and nature lovers alike. As well as zooming and swinging among the trees on the ropes courses (these include three ziplines), you can cuddle a koala, see Goliath the 4-metre saltwater croc, and get up close with more amazing Australian wildlife. There is a daily schedule of feedings and talks by the keepers and an amazing reptile show. Once it’s all over, take home a photo with a reptile or a koala to remember your time in Cairns!
Where: 35/41 Wharf St, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia
Opening Hours: Daily 9am to 6:15pm
Rainforestation Nature Park (CaPTA Group)
You can get your fill of the amazing wildlife and native culture of Australia when you arrive on a cruise to Cairns and head out to the Rainforestation Nature Park. Only 25 kilometres from the city and cruise dock in Kuranda, this park offers a huge range of experiences from rainforest tours in amphibious vehicles called “Army Ducks” and photos with crocodiles and koalas to cultural shows and very interesting “Bush Tucka” walks through the rainforest with aboriginal guides. Visitors can also learn about the Park’s volunteer program to support the flora and fauna, and wander amongst the critters in the park filled with koalas and other wildlife. It also has a gift shop so you can take a memory home with you, and a choice of several restaurants to keep you going between experiences.
Where: 1030 Kennedy Highway, Kuranda QLD 4881, Australia
Opening hours: Daily from 9am to 4pm. Closed Christmas Day
Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures
Crocs are fascinating creatures, mammoth amphibious reptiles with astounding strength and impressively sharp teeth. At Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, visitors can see them up close in a replica of their tropical natural habitat, along with other fauna such as birds, insects and other interesting reptiles. With various attractions including the Hartley’s Lagoon full of crocs, a wildlife discovery trail, and the Gondwana Gateway educational exhibit, this place has something for everyone. To really experience the might of a crocodile, you can even personally pole-feed a big one when you sign on for the Big Croc Experience. It’s quite the memory to take home, and comes with a souvenir photo. If you’re looking for adventure during your cruise to Cairns, consider a trip up to Hartley’s!
Where: Captain Cook Hwy, Wangetti QLD 4879, Australia
Opening Hours: 8:30am to 5pm daily (closed Christmas day)
Ochre Restaurant and Catering
Right on the edge of Cairn’s beautiful waterfront you’ll find the stunning Ochre Restaurant and Catering.For more than 20 years, Ochre Restaurant and Catering has been proudly using fresh local produce and seasonal ingredients to serve the highest quality Australian cuisine. Beautifully presented and coupled with the perfect wine, the menu is sensational no matter what time of day you visit. And whether you’re stopping by for lunch or spending the evening out for dinner, be sure to leave room for dessert - trust us; it’s well worth the sacrifice. It pays to book ahead, as this multi-award winning restaurant is popular with both tourists and locals alike. Step off your last minute cruise and take a 10-minute stroll along the waterfront to enjoy the tantalising flavours at Ochre Restaurant and Catering.
Where: 6 / 1 Marlin Parade, Cairns, Queensland, 4870, Australia
Opening hours: Open 7 days, including public holidays.
Lunch: 11.30 – 2.30 pm
Dinner: 5:30 – 9.30pm
Cairns Kart Hire and Lasertag
Get in some good old-fashioned fun as part of your cruise holiday from Cairns with a trip to Cairns Kart Hire and Lasertag. Just a 15-minute drive north of the city, this facility provides good times for all ages with a trio of entertainment: a 450-metre outdoor go karting circuit, two-storey laser tag arena, and a new set of escape rooms which require a team to solve puzzles in order to be let out before the time is up. Whether you like to race, battle or band together to overcome a challenge, your group of friends or family will come out of Cairns Kart Hire and Lasertag with a bit of adrenaline still pulsing and fantastic holiday memories. For the ultimate in entertainment, give all three a go.
Where: Captain Cook Hwy & Walkers Road, Cairns QLD 4878, Australia
Opening Hours: 9am - 10pm 7 days a week
Swap ocean adventures for inland explorations when you depart the city with Heritage Tours after your Cairns cruise. This company will pick you up from your Cairns accommodation and whisk you away north to discover the incredible landscapes, wildlife and places of a range of different Northern Queensland regions - primarily Cape York, the Gulf Savannah and the Kimberley. Heritage Tours truly offers something for everyone, with a variety of different tours from which to choose. Those who like a little bit of roughing it will enjoy the camping safaris, while the accommodated tours offer a few more creature comforts. Tours from Cairns vary in length from 7 to 15 days to fit into all schedules, and there are various add-ons available to make the experience even more memorable such as heli flights and boat cruises. For further adventures, the company also offers tours in Western Australia and the Outback
Where: Pick up from selected Cairns accommodation
Opening Hours: Scheduled tours operating from May till October
Cairns Ninebot Tours
Get off your Cairns cruise and see a whole lot more of the city with ease thanks to Cairns Ninebot Tours, otherwise known as Segway Cairns. Segways are a fantastic way to get around, and add a little fun to your average walking tour - particularly if it’s your first time! All necessary training and equipment comes as part of the tour package, and the Ninebot machines are the latest in safe, quality segway technology to make the experience even easier. Beginning on the popular Cairns Esplanade close to the city centre, the eco-tours take in the Centenary Lakes and the Botanical Gardens, and the mangrove gardens which serve as breeding grounds for tropical fish on the Great Barrier Reef. The knowledgeable guides provide interesting information about Cairns’ flora and fauna along the way.
Where: Cairns Esplanade, Cairns City QLD 4870 Australia
Opening Hours: Tours departing 9:30am and 3:30pm
Australian Armour and Artillery Museum
Add a little history to your Cairns visit when you call in to the Australian Armour and Artillery Museum to spend a few hours soaking up the military heritage. A unique, privately owned collection, the museum opened its doors to the public in 2014 and is the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. It includes armoured vehicles and artillery representing wars from the 1800s to the present day, and presently numbers 140 individual pieces which range from tanks to field guns and combat equipment. There are even rides available in armoured vehicles.The museum is located in a cluster of great Cairns attractions, 20 minutes’ drive north of the city in Smithfield - this means it’s easy to add to your holiday itinerary. Include it in a day of fantastic Northern Queensland sightseeing before or after your cruise from Cairns and come away a little more knowledgeable!
Where: 2 Skyrail Drive, Smithfield QLD 4878, Australia
Opening Hours: 9:30am to 4:30pm, 7 days a week
Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park
Australia begins at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park. Discover the rich history and culture of the nation when you take part in this fascinating experience. No matter the weather, no matter the time of day, Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park is open for budding adventurers and history buffs to journey through the story of Australia’s indigenous people. Performances, art, dance and food are just some of the fantastic aspects of Aboriginal culture you’ll experience when you visit. Day and night packages are available, or pop into the Flame Tree Bar and Grill for tropical, fresh flavours over lunch and dinner. From your Cairns cruise, jump in a car and venture just 20 minutes northwest to dive deeper into the history and culture of Australia at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park.
Where: 4 Skyrail Drive, Caravonica (Cairns), Queensland, 4878, Australia
Opening hours: 7 days. Day hours: 9:00am - 4:30pm
Night hours: 7:00pm - 9:30pm
Where to stay in Cairns
Gilligan's Backpackers Hotel and Resort
They may present themselves as a backpackers for economical travellers, but a stay at Gilligan's Backpackers Hotel and Resort feels anything but budget. A fantastic mix of traditional dorm-style accommodation (with varying configurations and prices), themed nights of entertainment, lively weekly functions and a resort-like grounds complete with swimming pool and a theatre, Gilligan’s is the hottest accommodation spot in Cairns. Located in the heart of the city, Gilligan's Backpackers Hotel and Resort is close to shopping, bars, restaurants, tourist attractions and the beach, making it the ideal Cairns location. Extend your Cairns cruise holiday on land at Gilligan's Backpackers Hotel and Resort.
Where: 57-89 Grafton Street, Cairns, 4870, Queensland, Australia
Phone: +61 7 4041 6566
Coral Tree Inn
Book a room at the centrally located Coral Tree Inn to discover Cairns from a fabulously convenient and comfortable location. Stay in one of the beautiful modern rooms, all with air conditioning, balconies, bar fridge and more, and head out to explore this incredible tropical city on foot. While it would be tempting to just haul up in the bright Coral Tree Inn rooms, making use of the delicious restaurant and refreshing swimming pool, it would be a shame to miss out on the engaging city on your doorstep. Get out and about in Cairns and visit some of the city’s hotspots - the zoo, botanic gardens, art gallery, and museum are all nearby, along with the Great Barrier Reef tour and cruise offices just a few blocks away. Step off your Cairns cruise and head 5 minutes into the CBD to check into the Coral Tree Inn.
Where: 166-172 Grafton Street Cairns City, 4870, Queensland, Australia
Phone: +61 7 4031 3744
Embarking on a cruise to or from Cairns? You can extend your stay and experience Northern Queensland in style when you book in to Piermonde Apartments. Directly across from the Cruise Liner Terminal on the corner of Lake and Wharf Streets, this fantastic self-contained accommodation is so near to the action of Cairns.The two and three bedroom apartments have everything you could need for a great stay - expansive views, spacious rooms, free WiFi, pillowtop beds and other little luxuries. The rooftop BBQ area is perfect for a casual family meal, and there is also an outdoor pool where you can swim without fear of stingers. Explore a little more before or after your Cairns cruise, and find out what this beautiful part of Australia has to offer from a comfortable home base at Piermonde.
Where: 2-4 Lake St, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia
Opening Hours: Open year-round
Park Regis City Quays
Enjoy Cairns your way when you stay at the Park Regis City Quays. This is more than your typical hotel, offering self-contained apartment accommodation as well as hotel-style rooms of various sizes and a rooftop swimming pool. The friendly staff will help you find anything you need while you are in Cairns, such as nearby fitness centres, spas, salons, restaurants and bars. A very central location on Lake Street puts the Park Regis City Quays just steps away from the Cruise Liner Terminal and also the main downtown area of Cairns where you will find all the shopping, dining and entertainment you could want. Tour operators are also close by, allowing you to get out and see the beautiful nature and landscapes of Northern Queensland. Add a stay here to your Cairns cruise holiday and experience it by land and sea both!
Where: 6 Lake St, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia
Opening hours: Open year-round
Take your holiday inland after a cruise to Cairns and treat yourself to a stay at the beautiful Foxwell Park Lodge. Situated 1.5 hours from Cairns on a gorgeous rural property, the lodge has a homestead with three bed-and-breakfast style ensuite rooms, as well as the more private Fairway Suites which boast private balconies, spa pools and pot belly fireplaces. An onsite restaurant means you needn’t go anywhere in search of dinner - which can also be delivered to your room should you so wish. From Foxwell Park, you are well-placed to explore the gorgeous Tablelands region which features ancient volcanic crater lakes, waterfalls, rainforest, wildlife, walking trails and so much more. The lodge is a real retreat, and the perfect addition to a relaxing Cairns cruise holiday.
Where: 336 Foxwell Rd, Peeramon QLD 4885, Australia
Opening Hours: Open year-round
Organised vs self-guided
This is a choice cruise passengers make at most destinations: sign on for a tour onboard, arrange one with an independent company onshore, or just explore using public transport and your own two feet? In Cairns, both are valid options.
While the city can provide plenty to do, as outlined above, some of the real attractions lie offshore or well to the north - namely, the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest. These require a tour operator, and there are plenty on offer. Cruise line-sanctioned tours offer peace of mind that the ship won't sail away without you, although Cairns independent tour operators are well-versed in cruise schedules and getting everyone back in plenty of time.
The Great Barrier Reef
This is the classic Cairns experience, and most lines will offer an excursion of some kind to this incredible underwater wonder - there are plenty of independent operators too. Get off the big ship and onto a smaller one to swim, snorkel and perhaps even dive over the amazing vistas and varied marine life of the Great Barrier Reef.
Be it at Daintree itself or in the Rainforestation Nature Park near Kuranda, the rainforests of northern Queensland are made available as a tour option for most cruise passengers. Many offer a ride on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, a cable car attraction over World Heritage listed rainforest, or an â€œArmy Duckâ€ amphibious vehicle ride at the Rainforestation Nature Park.
Cairns is known for its thrillseeking opportunities, and most cruise lines offer a few of these adrenaline-inducing or outdoorsy excursions to their brave passengers. Examples include:
- Quad bike tours
- Horse treks
- Jetboat cruises
- River tubing
- Helicopter flights
- River rafting
With so many things to do, sights to see and tours to undertake in Cairns cruise port, passengers are guaranteed a great visit. Get onboard and head to northern Queensland!Cruises visiting Cairns
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