Cruises around Australia

Tips and tricks before you book your Aussie cruise 

There’s something particularly idyllic about the idea of visiting some of Australia’s best destinations by sea. It harkens back to a bygone time of luxury, leisure and a relaxed pace of seeing the world where destinations roll up over the horizon. Whether you are planning to circumnavigate Australia, dip your toes into a short voyage or visit some iconic Aussie destinations like The Great Barrier Reef – a cruise is a great way to go about it. 

Modern cruise ships are a lot less HMS Bounty and a lot more OMG Bountiful – they’re full-scale resorts with opulent cabins, multiple restaurants, swimming pools, activities aimed at all members of the family and, of course, the brilliant Australian coastal views that’ll be etched in your memories forever.

Why cruise around Australia?

As an island continent, seeing Australia by sea makes perfect sense. With major urban centres and bucket list destinations dotting the coast using the ocean freeway to connect them is a peaceful and perfect way to conduct an Aussie adventure. Popular cruise routes start with short hops from cities for those wanting to experience cruising without going too far through to mega expeditions lasting twenty days or more that circumnavigate Australia and everything in between.

It would be easy to overlook the inland opportunities on offer too. In many of the ports, there are opportunities to get into the outback and experience the beautiful traditional Aboriginal culture that has called this place home for thousands of years.

For many, the idea of getting married on your Australian cruise is as about as romantic as you can get. If you’re planning to tie the knot, you’re in luck – most cruises offer wedding or renewal of vows packages. Typically, the ceremony takes place on the first day of the cruise and you get to spend the rest of the voyage in honeymoon bliss. Some even offer the option to have the Captain of the ship perform the ceremony. Whether it’s just you and your partner or the whole extended family – options are available to cater to both big and small weddings.

What to expect

Cruise ships have grown up a lot over the years. These days they cater to travellers who are content to take it easy and those seeking a bit more sugar in their tea. The usual suspects of great (and abundant) food, spa treatments, pools and gyms are, of course, there – but you’ll also find movie theatres, casinos, night clubs, Las Vegas-style shows, kids clubs, plus the latest in tech like wi-fi throughout the ship.

Once in port, the cruise will help you organise excursions and they can be everything from shopping and sightseeing, museums and points of interest or more energetic experiences like outback visits, scuba diving, wildlife viewing, helicopter rides, beach visits and more. 


What to pack

What you bring on your cruise will depend on when and where you are headed and what you’ve got planned. Cruises around Tasmania will entail some warmer clothes compared to the far north where the last thing you’ll want is an extra warm layer. Bear in mind what you have planned – will you be enjoying visiting Australia’s best restaurants or red sand horseback riding? 


Australia cruise essentials

  • Camera/mobile phone 
  • Comfortable casual clothes
  • Smart casual clothes
  • Comfortable shoes for on-shore adventures
  • New Zealand travellers will need their passport but won’t need a visa

Travel insurance could be a good idea to cover unexpected events like lost property or cancellations. Find more handy tips in our Ultimate Travel Packing Checklist.

Popular Australia cruise stops

If you could design a cruise ship destination in a lab that combines stunning scenery with abundant sea life and cosmopolitan city life it would look a lot like Australia. Australia is perfectly set up for a cruising adventure and with nearly every ship stopping at a few iconic ports it’s a win-win for everyone. As you plan, there will be plenty of options – here are some of our city highlights to help narrow down, or broaden your itinerary.


It’s hard to think of something more iconic than sailing out of Sydney, past the Opera House and under the Harbour Bridge. Australian cruise itineraries start and finish around the country – but many will start, finish or include Sydney. Iconic for its architecture, beaches (Bondi anyone?!), shopping and a whole lot more.


sydney harbour 


Heading up the East Coast and into warmer waters, Brisbane is an Australian gem hidden in plain sight. Adjacent to some incredible beaches and the outback tickling the fringes of the city – Brissy has a lot to offer. The revitalised city centre connected via river is a breath of fresh air and this urban quiet achiever boxes well above its weight.


For Aussies the Sydney versus Melbourne rivalry is legendary – ignore the noise and take Melbourne for exactly what it is – one of the best cities in the world. A mecca for foodies, coffee aficionados, shoppers and don’t forget the MCG – hallowed ground for sports fans. Add to that art galleries, penguins, a brilliant mish-mash of eclectic neighbourhoods and you have a true iconic destination.

 Apostles Victoria

Tasmania and Hobart

South of Melbourne; Tasmania has long been on the must-do list for many Australians. The opportunity to sail around the island state is something truly special. Take the opportunity to explore Hobart and the world-renowned MONA museum which some say is the best modern art gallery anywhere. Beyond Hobart; Tassie is a rugged and untouched paradise. Some of the last pristine wilderness to be found in Australia is here and a must-do for nature lovers.



The often overlooked capital of South Australia, Adelaide is the gateway to the Barossa Valley and some of the best wine this country produces. While some may argue with the ‘best’ platitude, regardless of where your allegiances lie we’ll all agree that it’s a mighty fine drop. Beyond the vino, Adelaide is a lovely place to explore nature with adjacent national parks - all brimming with iconic Aussie wildlife. 

The Great Barrier Reef

The Reef, as it’s often called, needs no introduction. Spanning a good part of the northeast coast of Australia, The Great Barrier Reef truly lives up to the hype. Whether you are a scuba diver, a snorkeller or happy to explore by glass bottom boat or other nautical means – this place is something special. The relatively shallow depth of water means that abundant sea life and colourful coral are awash just below the surface. It's an ideal place to get wet and get amongst it or stretch out on a white sand beach and just take it all in.


Great Barrier Reef

Australia is a cruise ship destination that should be top of mind for every traveller – especially for Kiwis. It’s an unbeatable way to experience a destination you might have visited before and, at the same time, dip below the surface and see it in a whole new light. Modern cruise ships take the stress out of getting from place to place and infuse a holiday with all the food, drink, enjoyment and relaxation it deserves – all aboard!


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