There’s no need to go far for fabulous cruise destinations when Australia is jammed full of them! The world’s biggest island or smallest continent, it has a huge variety of coastlines, islands, cities and towns to visit by cruise ship. Cruises departing Australia and heading to domestic destinations can offer all kinds of different holiday experiences, from tropical Queensland to temperate Tasmania. Read our quick guide to cruising in Australia, intended to help out Aussies and foreigners alike.
Australia is a big place, the sixth-largest country in the world by land area, possessing a huge variation in landscapes, climates, scenery and settlements. Originally inhabited by the native Aboriginal people, it consists of one main landmass and the much smaller island state of Tasmania, along with many other small offshore islands and archipelagos.
The main centres and cruise hubs are mostly along the east and southeast coast: Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. Adelaide is up and coming in the Australia cruise scene, and Fremantle, the port of Perth on the western coast, offers departures for those across on the Indian Ocean side of the country.
With so many diverse things to see and do on Australia cruises, it’s hard to pick just a few highlights and activities for days onshore. Here are some suggested hotspots to explore in different regions around the nation:
• Northern Queensland cruises call in at many places including the stunning Whitsunday Islands. A sailing excursion here will be a day to remember, allowing you to visit some incredible stretches of sand on the offshore islands. If your ship calls in to Cairns or Port Douglas, a trip inland to witness the amazing tropical rainforest and unique wildlife is a great option.
• Sydney is the starting point for many cruises, but also a port of call where ships stop in for the day. Here you can take the opportunity to bask in the vibrant city life: bars, restaurants, shopping and of course the iconic sights of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
• Tasmania is all about flora, fauna and history. Visit the Port Arthur penal colony ruins, take a walk in the wilderness, and make tracks to some of the spectacular national parks.
• Victoria and South Australia offer some fantastic opportunities for city breaks. Melbourne is known for its trendy laneways and urban attractions, while Adelaide in South Australia is famous for its wineries. If you can, get on a winery tour from Adelaide to taste the fruits of the south.
• Over in Western Australia, there’s more to see than just Perth and Fremantle. The beautiful Margaret River region and its world class wines, natural attractions and laidback, sunny atmosphere is accessible via Busselton, and in the north there is Broome, where visitors can ride camels on the stunning Cable Bay beach.
Australia’s food is as varied as its geography, so it’s impossible to sum up the Aussie eating experience in one or two short paragraphs. In the big cities, cruisers will have access to any cuisine which takes their fancy - from Asian specialties to European delights and all things in between. The country is known for its beef industry and the coastal areas have access to plentiful seafood. Tropical fruits grow well in the north, and Australian mangoes are quite a treat.
Food traditionally eaten by indigenous Australians is known as “Bush Tucker.” Squishy, nutty-flavoured witchetty grubs may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but many try and enjoy the meat of kangaroos, emus and even crocodiles.
If you’d like to try a few iconic Aussie foods, one of these might tempt your tastebuds: Vegemite, a yeast-based savoury spread for toast, anzac biscuits, Golden Gaytime ice creams, meat pies, a lamb roast, or the most recent culinary craze in Australia’s cities: The “Halal Snack Pack” from a greasy kebab shop.
If Australian treats aren’t to your taste, you won’t go hungry - there’s always fantastic food onboard your ship.
The Australian dollar (AUD) is used throughout Australia exclusively, available at all port cities and sizeable towns from ATMs and currency exchange outlets or banks. Credit cards are widely accepted. Tipping is appreciated but not expected.
The climate depends entirely on which part of Australia you are visiting. The northern parts of the country are hot, with wet and dry seasons roughly coinciding with Southern Hemisphere summer and winter respectively. Sydney is subtropical, with more traditional seasons, while the southern reaches of the country such as Tasmania experience cold winters and some snow in mountainous areas.
Australian tend far towards the casual in their dress, with shorts, singlets and thongs (flip flops) standard attire. While being scantily clad is very much acceptable, most do wear something in the water - so be sure to bring swimwear. Shaking hands is a good way to greet people you are meeting for the first time.
Australia has a range of stereotypes surrounding it and its people. While you are likely to experience the laid back beachy side of the country during a cruise, you might miss out on another of its faces: the Outback. More than just crocodile wrestling and khaki outfits, this region knocks the socks off all who visit with its natural beauty.
To travel inland and discover the incredible red-tinged landscapes, wide open spaces and friendly towns of Australia’s vast inland desert, consider adding some time before or after your cruise for a trip into the “Red Centre.”
Ready to acquaint yourself with the Land Down Under? Get onboard a cruise to Australia!