Travel

6 of the best Australian cruises you need to know about

There's no better way to explore our beautiful coastline!
Elevated view of Sydney Harbour Bridge from the Rocks in Sydney, New South Wales, NSW, Australia,

Yes, it’s wonderful to explore Europe on a Mediterranean cruise, or head to the planet’s remotest regions on an expedition cruise, but there’s an exciting cruise destination right in our backyard.

Cruising in Australia continues to expand every year. International cruise lines are sending more (and newer) ships Down Under for the summer season and you can now sail on large, small, luxury or expedition cruise ships on voyages that range from two- or three-night ‘sampler’ cruises to month-long Australia circumnavigations, with hundreds more Australian cruises in between.

And why not? Around its vast coastline, Australia’s cruise destinations feature attractions ranging from tropical rainforest and  spectacular coral reefs, to dramatic surf beaches, extraordinary wildlife, ancient indigenous art, colonial architecture, sophisticated cities and laidback towns. You can cruise from major ports such as Fremantle, Adelaide, Cairns, Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, and many itineraries also take in New Zealand’s North and South Islands.

Here are six of the best new-season Australian cruises you can book now – a drop in the ocean of choices available!

Viking Ocean Cruises

Viking’s fleet of new, Scandi-style 930-guest ships have captured the imagination of cruisers worldwide with their destination-focused itineraries,  a free excursion at every port and no-children, no-casino, no-art auction policies. Viking Orion sails from Sydney to Auckland over 14 nights, departing January 2, 2024 and overnight stays in both cities are a big drawcard. Availability is limited; book now for Viking Venus’s new, January 2025 32-day circumnavigation of Australia.

Seabourn

Celebrate Christmas and New Year in the lap of luxury aboard the 450-guest Seabourn Odyssey as she sails from Auckland to Sydney between December 23, 2023 and January 7, 2024. Highlights include calls to Stewart Island and scenic cruising in Fiordland. Fares include fine dining, wines with lunch and dinner, an open bar, staff gratuities and more.

Couple looking out over downtown Auckland skyline and harbour.
Auckland’s harbour easily rivals Sydney for its beauty.

Cunard

One of three famous Cunard ‘queens’, the 2081-guest Queen Elizabeth offers a marvellous mix of traditional and modern cruise experiences. Foodies will love the Great Australian Culinary Voyage 2024, featuring demonstrations, talks and special menus by renowned chefs Karen Martini, Darren Purchase, Mark Olive and more. The seven-night cruise round-trip from Melbourne visits Adelaide and Hobart and departs January 5, 2024. 

Princess Cruises

Four popular Princess ships – Coral, Grand, Royal and Majestic Princess – are cruising Australia and beyond this season, from major regional ports. Majestic Princess’ 10-night round-trip from Sydney to Queensland, departing January 31, 2024, visits Airlie Beach, Cairns, Port Douglas, Willis Island and Brisbane. The 3,560-guest Majestic Princess is one of the cruise line’s newest Royal class ships and features include sophisticated bars and restaurants, shops, pools, entertainment venues and kids’ clubs.

Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas, Queensland in wet season
You don’t have to travel far for tropical beaches.

Coral Expeditions

This all-Aussie company specialises in small-ship expedition cruises in far-flung regions of Australia and beyond. Guests and experts on the 10-night ‘citizen science’ sailing from Brisbane to Cairns will research turtles and rays, while visiting remote reefs, islands, and significant wildlife habitats in the Coral Sea marine zone. The 72-guest Coral Discoverer departs on March 19, 2024.

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Edge is the line’s newest ship to sail Down Under and its debut season kicks off in December. The 2,918-guest ship is known for its revolutionary ‘magic carpet’ moving platform and expansive rooftop garden. Its nine-night, Sydney round-trip Wine Cruise departs on April 5, 2024, calling at Melbourne, Adelaide, Kangaroo Island and Hobart to sample culinary delights and top local wines.

Related stories