Let’s face it, Australia and New Zealand are a long way from home but it’s a holiday destination which offers us Brits a multitude of experiences that we’ll be hard pushed to find elsewhere.
No more so than on a cruise. Itineraries range from short hops to the Great Barrier Reef, exploration cruises around Australia’s Northwest Kimberley coast or even complete circumnavigation and longer itineraries visiting New Zealand and beyond into the South Pacific.
So for those of you thinking of heading down under here are our travel expert’s recommendations of how a cruise can really enhance your trip.
The Great Barrier Reef
If you’re heading to Eastern Australia the world famous ‘Great Barrier Reef’ will most certainly be on your ‘to do’ list. Cairns is the main gateway to explore this fascinating underwater UNESCO World Heritage Site. Most of the big cruise lines will stop and offer day trips as part of a Queensland itinerary but we think the best way to experience it is as part of a wider land-based programme.
Coral Princess Cruises offer a variety of 3, 4 and 7 night cruises and have over 30 years’ experience in cruising this coastline. Departing out of Cairns its 3 night itinerary goes south to Pelorus Island or 4 nights north to Lizard Island and historic Cooktown. The itineraries are designed to provide ample time to explore the reef through snorkelling and SCUBA diving or for the less adventurous a glass bottom boat. Cruises are joined by marine biologists and naturalists to bring to life the natural landscape and marine wildlife on display. Don’t worry there is plenty of time for a bit of beach life too. Prices from £835pp for the 3 day itinerary travelling February.
Once a well-kept secret Australia’s wild northwest is becoming an increasingly popular cruise destination with big ships including it in circumnavigations and smaller ships like Silversea featuring the region within its ‘Expedition’ style cruises. Or you can really get under its skin with a comprehensive exploration itinerary from the likes of National Geographic Expeditions.
The National Geographic Orion sails a 10 night itinerary from Darwin to Broome exploring the sandstone hills of the Bungle Bungles, the vertical canyons and plunging waterfalls of the King George River, the ancestral culture of the native Aboriginal people at Vansittart Bay, Crocodile Creek and lots more besides. Accompanied by naturalists and National Geographic’s own certified photographers there are talks and hands-on instruction along the way, so you’ll definitely get the most out of your trip to one of the world’s last real wilderness. Prices from £6,100pp (cruise only).
Sydney, Southern Australia and New Zealand
Sydney is the most popular starting point for a cruise south into the Tasman Sea with frequent flights into this vibrant city from around the world. It offers the perfect land based combination for UK travellers with a plentiful range of city and beach options available. Melbourne, Adelaide, and Hobart in Tasmania are popular ports of call and the pretty coastal town of Eden is starting to appear on more itineraries. Round trips will take you back into Sydney, or venture on to New Zealand to explore the spectacular fjordlands and snow-capped mountains of the South Island or tropical and volcanic landscapes in the north. Some lines offer one-way trips from Sydney or Melbourne to Auckland or in reverse for those wanting to stay on in either destination for longer.
If your focus is New Zealand then yacht and expedition cruise specialist Ponant offers a great 12 night ‘New Zealand and Maoris’ itinerary on board the sleek and contemporary Le Soléal, that will give you a good balanced itinerary of the country. It has 2 departures in January and February 2016 from Melbourne visiting Hobart in Tasmania, Milford Sound, Nelson, Picton and Wellington on the South Island and Tauranga and Auckland on the North Island. There is also a departure from Auckland returning north.
If you prefer to stick to Australia Holland America Line’s 14 night itinerary from Fremantle (Perth) to Sydney takes in all the ports of call you’d expect – Albany, Port Lincoln, Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, Burnie in Tasmania, Eden and Sydney. Prices from £1,599pp (cruise only). Add a pre cruise 5 or 7 night stay to explore Perth and Fremantle or the popular holiday island of Rottnest. Or add a post cruise stay in Sydney before heading home with an Asia or Dubai stop-over on the way.
If you’re into music and looking for something a bit whacky then Royal Caribbean offer a ‘Rock the Boat’ 7 nights round trip out of Brisbane billed as ‘A Salute to the Sixties’ with performances from international and Australian rock n’ roll artists from yester-year. Oh and it visits the Isle of Pines and Lifou in New Caledonia as way of respite from all those snake hips! Apparently the Ozzie’s love it as it’s the 6th year in operation with charter company Cruiseco.
Although Australia can be visited year round generally the best time to cruise is October to April with the most departures and varied itineraries during this period. Unless that is you’re visiting the Gold Coast and Great Barrier Reef, which is best visited in our summer months (June through to August). Remember as it’s such a popular destination so we’d advise you start planning your trip around a year in advance.
This is just a snap shot of the Australian and New Zealand cruise experiences available so speak to our experts today about how best to include a cruise in your trip down under. Call 0191 285 9321 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for help and advice. Visit www.travelb.co.uk for more cruise inspiration.