Cruising Australia and New Zealand

Cruising Down Under in the South Pacific

Sydney Opera House in Sydney Harbor with downtown skyline, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Sydney Opera House in Sydney Harbor with downtown skyline, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Gallo Images/Vetta/Getty Images

Australia may be a continent, but it's also an island. Therefore, it's a great cruise destination for anyone looking for a longer, more exotic cruise. And, if you are planning a trip to Australia, don't overlook New Zealand. This smaller island nation also in the South Pacific offers spectacular natural beauty and some of the friendliest people on earth. Some cruises visit both Australia and New Zealand, but note that both countries certainly deserve more of your time than just a few days!

The Appeal of Australia and New Zealand

The history of Australia and New Zealand and their distance from most of the rest of the world has given the area a mystery and made it a "must see" on every travel lover's list. Certainly, there are tourist sites in Australia and New Zealand that are not accessible via cruise ship, but cruise lines offer pre or post cruise add-ons to capture a trip to the outback, the Great Barrier Reef or to see some of the wonderful natural sites in New Zealand.

Because of its location, Australia is a land of plants and animals seen nowhere else in the world. Who doesn't think of koalas and kangaroos in connection with Australia? This isolation from the more populated continents makes Australia and New Zealand even more intriguing to me. Movies ranging from the chilling 1959 doomsday movie, On the Beach to the hilarious Crocodile Dundee have whetted our appetites for Australia. The Australian national song "Waltzing Matilda" can bring tears or laughter, depending on how it is sung. More recently, the three ​Lord of the Rings movies, which were set in New Zealand, transformed this exotic island nation into Middle Earth.

If anyone out there hadn't already thought of Australia as a vacation destination, the 2000 Olympics in Sydney certainly raised the awareness of this corner of the world.

Cruising in Australia and New Zealand

There are basically four different types of cruises in Australia and New Zealand. First, you can fly into a major airport in Australia or New Zealand (normally Sydney or Auckland), embark on a cruise of 10-15 days to various ports in Australia, New Zealand or Tasmania, and then fly back home.

Second, you can book a segment of 15-100+ days of a world cruise that includes Australia and/or New Zealand ports. Third, you can take a repositioning cruise between Southeast Asia and Australia. Finally, you can fly to Australia and book a cruise of a week or more on a small ship that cruises only in the South Pacific. Let's take a look at some of these in more detail.

You probably won't see any kangaroos from a cruise ship, but that shouldn't keep you from choosing to cruise to this intriguing continent. Cruise lines have discovered that many cruise lovers want to cruise down under, and many people have the time off to vacation from North America or Europe to Australia and New Zealand.

Most cruise travelers from North America visit Australia from November through March. Since the seasons are reversed, it's perfect weather for cruising. Some cruise lines also base one or more ships in Australia year around. With the number of cruise ships built over the last few years, you have a wide variety of cruise ships to choose from.

The second type of cruise is a repositioning cruise from Asia or North America to Australia. These repositioning cruises all feature more sea days and are usually two weeks or even longer.

If you are looking for a taste of a world cruise, you might want to book a segment of an around-the-world trip that includes stopovers in Australia and/or New Zealand.

The fourth cruise option for Australia is a small ship cruise line that stays in Australia year-round. Captain Cook's Cruises has several options for cruises that range from 3 to 7 days. This small ship line has ships that go to the Great Barrier Reef and Fiji. Captain Cook's also has a paddle wheeler that cruises the Murray River. P&O Australia across sails Australia year-round.

One more thing: The exchange rate for American dollars is better than in Europe. With all of these options, what's your excuse?