ALASKA

As eagles soar past the snow-capped mountains and the glaciers calve icy shelves into the water, it is the captivating wildlife and nature that attracted around two million cruisers to Alaska last year. It’s not called the Great Land for no reason.


Departing from either Juneau or Vancouver, cruises traverse their way through the famed Inside Passage, which in its entirety spans 800 kilometres north to south. In places you will be sailing through a wide bay of barrier islands, and in other parts, the ships will be squeezing through narrow waterways that are flanked by thick forested walls.


A large portion of the cruise will be spent in sailing through the Tongass National Forest, the largest protected park in the United States. It covers 16.7 million acres of mountains, lakes and wetlands. Along the coast are small settlement pockets of residents with strong Native American ties. As you sail past, the shoreline is dotted with totem poles carved with ancient symbols and figures.


The cruise lines call at historic sites like Ketchikan, where the wharf is lined with colourful wooden buildings and a busy shopping strip. Known as the Salmon Capital of the World, here fishing enthusiasts can try their hand at catching five different varieties of salmon during the summer months.


Seward is a busy port town and serves as the gateway to the Kenai Fjords National Park where the glaciers flow from the Harding Icefield into the coastal fjords. The waters here are rich with nutrients, makes Seward abundant with marine wildlife. It’s a prime spot for whale-watching tours.


The last port of call for most Inside Passage cruises is the old gold rush town of Skagway. Take a stroll to the small local museums including the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Visitor Centre. It’s also worth a visit to the Red Onion Saloon, a former brothel and an iconic part of Skagway’s debaucherous history.


Ships also spend time cruising in regions like Glacier Bay National Park where, from the comfort of your balcony, you will see Alaska’s rugged beauty, breaching whale pods and an array of wildlife.

NEED TO KNOW


What should I pack?

Even during summer, the weather can be cold so it’s best to pack light warm layers and good rainproof gear. As Alaska is considered soft adventure, it’s wise to invest in good walking shoes like trail runners or hiking boots. Purchase some binoculars to spot wildlife along the shores from the ship.


When can I go?

The peak season for Alaskan cruises starts in early May and stops in September. July and August are the warmest months but are also the most expensive. If you are looking to cruise on a budget, look at the shoulder months at the start and end of the season.


Where do I sail from?

Seattle, Vancouver, Anchorage


Who is it for?

Considered a soft adventure destination, Alaska has long attracted couples and seniors who may not want to commit to more extreme icy regions like the Arctic or Antarctica. But with the increasing number of lines like Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line offering itineraries and ships with children’s facilities, there is an increase in families heading to Alaska. Lines like Uncruise Adventures and Lindblad National Geographic Cruises for more adventurous cruisers.


ITINERARIES


7 nights

While there are shorter three- to five-night options for an Alaska cruise, the standard seven-night voyage is an ideal choice to see this part of the world. A typical itinerary will depart from Vancouver or Seattle, and cruise the Inside Passage before calling at places like Ketchikan, Skagway and Seward. Some cruises will also stop at the purpose-built port at Icy Straight Point or the historic Sitka.


14 nights

Many cruise lines offer also offer cruise add-on packages that include train journeys on the Rocky Mountaineer, land tours and even stays in wilderness lodges. This gives cruisers the opportunity to see other parts of Alaska, such as the wild interior of the Denali National Park. Here, the wildlife is abundant with bears, wolves, otters and more.


Shore excursions

  • A dog sledding excursion across one of Juneau’s legendary glaciers. The tour includes a visit to the musher’s camp.
  • A whale watching cruise in Auke Bay. There are often humpback and killer whale pods breaching and you’ll see harbour seals and Dall’s porpoises.
  • A crab fishing ride at Ketchikan aboard Aleutian Ballad, the crab boat that featured in Deadliest Catch.
  • Alaskan seafood is famous for a reason, and in Juneau, you can get a ticket to an all-you-can-eat salmon bake. Not just a meal, the event has live bands playing while you eat beside a roaring fire. Dishes on the menu include clam chowder, alderwood-grilled wild salmon and the local Tongass wild rice pilaf.

ASIA

With an abundance of exotic destinations, well-known cruise lines and cheap airfares, Asia is now a popular place for Australians and New Zealanders to cruise.


Singapore has become a major cruise hub, with cruise lines such as Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean and Dream Cruises homeporting year-round. The Lion City is famous for its shopping, beautiful hotels, delicious hawker food and family-friendly atmosphere – perfect for pre- and post-cruise breaks.


Cruises from here sail to Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia on a number of short and longer itineraries. Most lines offer two- to five-day itineraries. Premium and luxury cruise lines such as Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, Silversea and Crystal Cruises sail from Australia on longer voyages around the region.


Malaysia is one of the most popular countries to visit. With ports including Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Langkawi, the country has a rich colonial history, stunning beaches and lively wildlife, as well as excellent local food.


Ports such as Hong Kong and Shanghai are also home to some of the world’s biggest ships including Royal Caribbean’s technologically advanced Quantum of the Seas. They sail to popular destinations like Vietnam and Japan as well as burgeoning destination, the Philippines. Fast becoming a new favourite country to explore by cruise ship, Philippine islands such as Boracay are famous for their white sandy beaches and snorkelling and diving.


Japan’s north and south cruise regions are vastly different and lines including Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean regularly sail to sub-tropical Okinawa in the south as well as Kyoto and Tokyo to the north, which are famous for their vibrant shopping districts and beautiful Shinto temples.


Tokyo, the Imperial City, sprawls over an immense area – encompassing temples, museums, shops and food outlets galore – so only plan to see a section of it. Try Ginza, great for luxury shopping, nightlife, bars, cafes and restaurants, or visit Tsukiji Fish Market, the world’s largest, or see as much as you can from Tokyo Skytree, Japan’s tallest building. The port of Yokohama, with vibrant waterside parks and a ramen museum, is just 40 minutes by train from central Tokyo.


Adventure and small-ship cruising is fast becoming popular in Asia, with places like Raja Ampat archipelago in Indonesia named as a hot new destination. Lines like Peregrine Windstar Cruises will take you to the smaller and lesser known ports on five-masted ships.

NEED TO KNOW


What should I pack?

Southeast Asian countries like Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia are near the equator which means it is warm and humid year round. Take summer clothing, hats, plenty of sunscreen and insect repellent, but bring a jacket for the ship, as lines will blast the air conditioning. If you are cruising from places like Japan and China during winter, it can be cold and wet so it’s best to pack thermals, a fleece jacket and rain gear.


When can I go?

Sailings from Singapore to other Southeast Asian countries run all year on cruise lines like Dream Cruises. Be aware though, that from September through to December, some Southeast Asian countries go through monsoon season. It’s best to sail to Japan during spring and autumn – it’s an economical way to perhaps get a glimpse of the cherry blossoms or fall foliage.


Where do I sail from?

Singapore, Tokyo, Japan, Shanghai, China


Who is it for?

A big ocean cruise around Asia is perfect for the entire family looking for a warm holiday. These cruises are also perfect for large groups of friends. A cruise around Japan takes cruisers to some amazing sites like the Golden Temple in Kyoto, which is perfect for couples and older groups of friends, while an itinerary sailing from Shanghai will also stop at ports in Taiwan, making it a foodies’ delight. For more adventurous cruisers, there are smaller boutique ships that take you to more remote regions.


ITINERARIES


3-5 nights

Many Asian residents don’t have long holidays so if you are sailing out of a local port you will find that there are mostly shorter itineraries, which is perfect if you are tacking a cruise onto your holiday plans. A five-night round-trip sailing from Singapore will call at ports in Malaysia or Thailand to give you a sample of cruising.


7 nights and more

Longer itineraries will often depart from Australia and include a raft of Asian countries. As well as Malaysia and Thailand, the itineraries will also visit countries like Vietnam and Indonesia or even Brunei. Luxury cruise lines will go a step further and take you to smaller ports for smaller immersive experiences with the local community.


Shore excursions

  • A shore excursion to the Komodo Island National Park to see the famed Komodo Dragons.
  • A Tokyo after 5 excursion will take you to some of the best eats in the backstreets of the metropolis with a local guide.
  • When visiting Benoa in Bali, many cruise lines offer a shore excursion to the artist region of Ubud. It’s famed for the sacred Monkey Temple and sweeping green rice paddies.
  • Cruising in China means you may stop in Tianjin, the closest port to the imposing Great Wall of China. There are many tours which will take you to see this Wonder of the World.

AUSTRALIA

Aussies are the fastest growing market for the cruise industry, with 1.35 million of us taking a cruise in 2018. As we embrace this spectacular way to holiday, our states and territories are opening up with new ports, giving locals new options for domestic cruise.


New South Wales is known as the gateway to cruise in Australia. Sydney is Australia’s largest cruise port and for first-time cruisers, even if you live locally, there is nothing more breathtaking than seeing the Harbour Bridge and Opera House as you sail in and out of the harbour. The state is also home to cruise ports like Newcastle, north of Sydney, and Eden and Wollongong along the south coast of New South Wales. Eden is known for humpback whale sightings, especially between September and November, while Newcastle has blossomed as a regional hub with new restaurants, cafes, bars, galleries and art precincts. It also boasts some of the best surfing beaches around.


The next big cruising hub in Australia is Queensland. From here, you can cruise for just one day and you’ll reach the South Pacific. But it’s also popular for access to local destinations like Moreton Island and the Whitsunday Islands, which have white sandy beaches and colourful reefs, and of course, the Great Barrier Reef. A lesser-known but equally beautiful destination in Queensland is Fraser Island, which is the largest sand island in the world, and the only one where the rainforest grows directly from the sand.


Victoria is also fast becoming a cruise powerhouse, and offers short sailings from Melbourne to Tasmania, Adelaide and Sydney. The Port of Melbourne leads right into the heart of Victoria’s capital city, which boasts cool restaurants, street art and laneways with secret bars. Around 90 minutes from the CBD, Phillip Island is rich with marine life, and is a well-known nesting ground for fairy penguins. Researchers and conservationists have preserved this spot for the adorable birds, which parade from the beach at night to nest in a specially made enclosure.


Down in Tasmania, there are still destinations which are relatively untouched, and the state attracts nature lovers from all around the world. Freycinet Peninsula is one Tasmania’s biggest drawcards, with hiking trails for hardcore adventurers as well as some easier trails, like the 600m boardwalk to Cape Tourville Lighthouse for sweeping coastal views of Wineglass Bay.


The lovely state of South Australia is attracting thousands of cruisers with its fantastic vineyards and beautiful landscape. It’s a great destination for foodies and nature lovers alike, with cruise lines offering a range of shore excursions showcasing the best of this region. Barossa is the wine capital of Australia and home to large and small wine labels including Penfolds, Henschke, Jacob’s Creek and Wolf Blass, and celebrity chef Maggie Beer has a farm shop in the area. There are also more than 100 cellar doors in McLaren Vale, to the south of Adelaide, where you can also find gourmet produce such as hand-made cheese. State capital Adelaide is a charming small city which plays host to the annual Adelaide Fringe Festival, the second-largest in the world.


Western Australia is fondly known as the Wild West. A massive expanse of land taking up nearly half of the country, it morphs from quiet bays sprinkled with rounded rocks to plains patchworked with vines, forests with some of the tallest trees in the world and hidden gorges harbouring jagged ochre formations. Nearly all the way along its coast, the marine-blessed state is fringed with travel-brochure-perfect beaches. The state’s population of almost three million is concentrated in the fertile southwest corner, home to the Margaret River wine region and the capital Perth. In the north, the Kimberley region features ancient Aboriginal rock art, the Bungle Bungle sandstone domes and the pearling town of Broome.

NEED TO KNOW


What should I pack?

December through to February is when you’ll encounter the hottest temperatures and the highest UV, so make sure you pack plenty of sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat. It can get chilly in the evenings from March onwards in the southern states like Victoria and Tasmania so make sure you pack some warm clothing.


When can I go?

Australia’s wave season starts in November and finishes in April and the best time to sail is from November to April. Cruises can be expensive around the school holidays which are from December to January, but if you cruise in the shoulder seasons, there are more affordable itineraries. Cruises from ports in Australia do run all year round.


Where do I sail from?

Fremantle, Western Australia; Melbourne, Victoria; Adelaide, South Australia; Sydney, New South Wales; Brisbane, Queensland; Hobart, Tasmania.


Who is it for?

Australian cruises offer something for everyone – whether you’re travelling solo, as a family, with friends, or as an older couple. The major capitals of the states are burgeoning hubs with art and culture, thriving food scenes and spectacular sights, but outside the cities, there are great hiking trails, lush vineyards and coastal communities.


ITINERARIES


4 nights

Shorter itineraries can take you from Sydney down to the picturesque Sapphire Coast. Or, if you’re cruising from Brisbane, a four-night itinerary cruise sails to the Whitsundays so you can snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef. These quick voyages will take you to an exciting destination and give you ample time to explore the ship.


5 nights and more

Longer itineraries, especially from Sydney, include circumnavigations of Australia with stops at standard destinations like Adelaide, Fremantle and Darwin, but they will also cruise to smaller ports like Burnie in Tasmania, Port Lincoln in South Australia and Esperance and Albany in Western Australia.


Shore excursions

  • Scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland.
  • In Hobart, cruise ships dock near the Brooke Street Pier where there is a ferry to the Museum of Old and New Art. The gallery has some provocative pieces which will be the topic of conversation back onboard the ship.
  • Visit an oyster farm in Eden where you learn how they are farmed and taste them right there while you’re standing in your waders.

BALTIC & NORTHERN EUROPE

While the Mediterranean may be the most popular overseas destination for Aussie cruisers, Northern European and Baltic itineraries are seeing an increase in interest. Cruising from Southampton is a good option for first-time cruisers looking to explore destinations in Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia.


There are some stunning itineraries in Scandinavia that let cruisers visit Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland with ease. A cruise through the picturesque Norwegian fjords takes visitors to areas rich in Viking history and culture, small towns like colourful Bergen and even as far as the remote archipelago of Lofoten where you will be struck by the ice-capped mountain ridges and jagged architecture of its peaks. There are more than 1,000 fjords in Norway with seals and porpoises swimming in the blue saltwater lakes.


A Scandinavian cruise is also the gateway to the Arctic Circle. This is where cruisers can see one of the most amazing natural wonders of the world – the northern lights. Many small ship cruise lines offer added tours to see this spectacular light show.


Other popular cruise destinations include Russia, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK, and most of the major lines offer fabulous itineraries, be it on megaliner or a smaller luxury ship.


Germany offers excellent stops such as Hamburg – a typical tour of the city includes the grand church St Michaelis (called the Michel), the old warehouse district and the harbour promenade – and Berlin – where you can see the remnants of the historic Wall.


The Netherlands is rich with history. This tiny country, which has much of its cities still intact despite German invasion during WWII, is perfect for history buffs. Amsterdam is home to the Anne Frank Museum and the historical city centre isd a compact living museum. Everything is within walking distance, from the diamond cutters to the world-famous museums and art galleries.


In Russia, itineraries let you watch the Russian Ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg and explore the Volga River.

NEED TO KNOW


What should I pack?

As the weather can dip to single digits or even below zero, polar fleece jackets and weather-proof gear should be packed. If you’re sailing during summer, the endless days means lots of sun so make sure you pack plenty of sunscreen, and an eye mask to help you sleep. If you’re sailing with an adventure line, you won’t have to worry about heavy expedition gear as the line will provide this for you.


When can I go?

There are cruises which run all year round along the Norwegian coastline. The Baltic Sea on the other hand, which can be rough, has a season that runs from May to September. The peak season is June through August.


Where do I sail from?

Stockholm, Sweden; Copenhagen, Denmark; Southampton, United Kingdom, Oslo, Norway.


Who is it for?

Generally, cruises that visit the larger cities will attract older cruisers. Those who love culture and art will also be attracted to the beautiful cities in this region. There are also some adventure options in this area that will attract active cruisers. If you’re sailing on Norwegian coast cruises, there are some unique cruise lines like local brand Hurtigruten. Once serving as a postal service for remote islands in the fjords, the line has environmentally friendly ships powered by batteries.


ITINERARIES


7 nights

Baltic Sea departures normally leave from Southampton in the United Kingdom, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo or Amsterdam. The cruise will then visit Tallinn in Estonia as well as the lovely ornate St Petersburg. For Norwegian cruises, lines will sail out of Bergen or Oslo and cruise to Trondheim, Bodø and Tromsø.


14 nights

A 14-night itinerary will take you to smaller or further afield ports. Some less-travelled destinations include Warnemünde in Germany, the Faroe Islands, and ports in Iceland, Norway and even northern Scotland. Smaller luxury cruise lines sometimes stay in St Petersburg for up to three nights.


Shore excursions

  • If you’re cruising the Arctic Circle, you may see the Northern Lights. Hurtigruten promises, on a 12-day voyage, that if you don’t see the spectacle, you get a free week-long cruise.
  • If you’ve already seen St Petersburg and the ship is staying in port for a few nights, it’s worth a trip to see Russia’s capital, Moscow.
  • Take a dog sledding shore excursion while you’re in Norway, Sweden or Finland. You’ll get to meet local mushers, who have been in the profession for generations.
  • The Old Town of Tallinn in Estonia is made up of medieval architecture, domed Russian cathedrals and outdoor markets. A bike tour is a scenic way to see the city.

NEW ZEALAND

The allure of the Land of the Long White Cloud, our closest neighbour, is an ideal destination for cruisers who love nature.


More than 129,000 Aussies cruised to New Zealand in 2018, and Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises and luxury lines like Silversea, Seabourn and Crystal Cruises are all offering New Zealand destinations.


Highlights include anchoring in Akaroa’s splendid bay and tendering ashore, and sailing the Queen Charlotte Sound towards Picton. But all are surpassed by Milford Sound and its fellow fjords on the South Island’s east coast, some of the most dramatic landscapes you could possibly enjoy from the comfort of a cruise ship, with waterfalls, wild cliffs backed by snowy peaks and, more often than not, moody mists that make for great photo opportunities.


Some 30 ships visit New Zealand each season, either as part of trans-Pacific voyages or on New Zealand cruises from Australian ports. If you don’t want to brave the sometimes turbulent Tasman Sea, CMV's Columbus also has New Zealand-only cruises out of Auckland. Small-ship expedition lines such as Silversea, Ponant or local company Heritage Expeditions take more adventurous cruisers off the well-sailed waters by heading to New Zealand’s windswept sub-Antarctic islands such as Campbell Island, the Snares and the Auckland Islands.


New Zealand’s port towns also offer plenty of culture and history. You can learn about Maori traditions on shore excursions to Rotorua, or early contact with the Europeans at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds in the beautiful Bay of Islands region. Akaroa has unusual French colonial influences, Dunedin boasts a castle and whisky distillery straight out of Scotland, and Napier’s 1930s architecture recalls the American jazz age.


Wellington combines old-fashioned cosiness with avant-garde flair and a terrific, contemporary dining scene and its Te Papa Museum is outstanding, while Auckland has big-city attractions embedded in wild landscapes, as well as one of the world’s loveliest harbours. Of course, you’ll also find a huge range of adrenaline sports and experiences, as befits the nation that gave the world bungee jumping.

NEED TO KNOW


What should I pack?

Even during summer, New Zealand can get chilly. It’s best to bring light layers, a good waterproof jacket, and if you plan on trekking, make sure you pack broken-in hiking boots. Pack lots of protective sun gear like hats and sunscreen. Although it’s not as hot, the UV is strong in New Zealand so you can get burnt easily. Also pack plenty of insect repellent – New Zealand is notorious for sandflies.


When can I go?

The New Zealand cruise season runs from early October into late April, with December, January and February the peak months. Few ships visit at other times of year, since winters are chilly. New Zealand weather can be unpredictable even in summer and with 2,813 kilometres to navigate between its northernmost and southernmost points, expect temperature changes. The Bay of Islands is subtropical, while destinations such as Dunedin or Stewart Island lie further south than Hobart.


Where do I sail from?

Auckland, Wellington


Who is it for?

The warmth of Kiwi hospitality, their good humour and scope of activities makes New Zealand an appealing destination to a wide range of travellers. Families, adventure seekers, food and wine lovers to mature couples… it may sound cliché, but there is something for everyone. In New Zealand’s South Island, particularly around the Milford Sound, many cruise lines offer adventure activities like white water rafting. Places like Marlborough have an abundance of wineries and food producers.


ITINERARIES


7 nights

Many New Zealand cruises depart from either Sydney, Australia or Auckland. A seven-night cruise will give you a good snapshot into the wonders of the Land of the Long White Cloud. Itineraries will normally include scenic cruising through places like the Fiordland National Park, or the Milford Sound. Here, your ship will glide through the calm waters which are flanked by forested mountain faces.


12 nights and more

A longer cruise around New Zealand means calls at more ports, giving visitors the chance to discover the varying landscapes of the country from north to south. Expect more immersive shore excursions, and even an occasional overnight.


Shore excursions

  • Try New Zealand’s fine wine on a winery tour at Hawke’s Bay.
  • Active cruisers should swim with wild Hector’s dolphins in Akaroa Harbour.
  • The remote town of Invercargill has fewer than 2,000 residents but visit the Bluff Maritime Museum. Or if you’re there in the right the season, try the famous Bluff oysters.
  • On an expedition cruise, itineraries may take you to Steward Island. Here, the lush Rakiura National Park, which covers 90 per cent of the island, offers intrepid hikes.

ALASKA

As eagles soar past the snow-capped mountains and the glaciers calve icy shelves into the water, it is the captivating wildlife and nature that attracted around two million cruisers to Alaska last year. It’s not called the Great Land for no reason.


Departing from either Juneau or Vancouver, cruises traverse their way through the famed Inside Passage, which in its entirety spans 800 kilometres north to south. In places you will be sailing through a wide bay of barrier islands, and in other parts, the ships will be squeezing through narrow waterways that are flanked by thick forested walls.


A large portion of the cruise will be spent in sailing through the Tongass National Forest, the largest protected park in the United States. It covers 16.7 million acres mountains, lakes and wetlands. Along the coast are small settlement pockets of residents with strong Native American ties. As you sail past, the shoreline is dotted with totem poles carved with ancient symbols and figures.


The cruise lines call at historic sites like Ketchikan, where the wharf is lined with colourful wooden buildings and a busy shopping strip. Known as the Salmon Capital of the World, here fishing enthusiasts can try their hand at catching five different varieties of salmon during the summer months.


Seward is a busy port town and serves as the gateway to the Kenai Fjords National Park where the glaciers flow from the Harding Icefield into the coastal fjords. The waters here are rich with nutrients, makes Seward abundant with marine wildlife. It’s a prime spot for whale watching tours.


The last port of call for most Inside Passage cruises is the old gold rush town of Skagway. Take a stroll to the small local museums including the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Visitor Centre. It’s also worth a visit to the Red Onion Saloon, a former brothel and an iconic part of Skagway’s debaucherous history.


Ships also spend time cruising in regions like Glacier Bay National Park where, from the comfort of your balcony, you will see Alaska’s rugged beauty, breaching whale pods and an array of wildlife.

NEED TO KNOW


What should I pack?

Even during summer, the weather can be cold so it’s best to pack light warm layers and good rainproof gear. As Alaska is considered soft adventure, it’s wise to invest in good walking shoes like trail runners or hiking boots. Purchase some binoculars to spot wildlife along the shores from the ship.


When can I go?

The peak season for Alaskan cruises starts in early May and stops in September. July and August are the warmest months but are also the most expensive. If you are looking to cruise on a budget, look at the shoulder months at the start and end of the season.


Where do I sail from?

Seattle, Vancouver, Anchorage


Who is it for?

Considered a soft adventure destination, Alaska has long attracted couples and seniors who may not want to commit to more extreme icy regions like the Arctic or Antarctica. But with the increasing number of lines like Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line offering itineraries and ships with children’s facilities, there is an increase in families heading to Alaska. Lines like Uncruise Adventures and Lindblad National Geographic Cruises for more adventurous cruisers.


ITINERARIES


7 nights

While there are shorter three- to five-night options for an Alaska cruise, the standard seven-night voyage is an ideal choice to see this part of the world. A typical itinerary will depart from Vancouver or Seattle, and cruise the Inside Passage before calling at places like Ketchikan, Skagway and Seward. Some cruises will also stop at the purpose-built port at Icy Straight Point or the historic Sitka.


14 nights

Many cruise lines offer also offer cruise add-on packages that include train journeys on the Rocky Mountaineer, land tours and even stays in wilderness lodges. This gives cruisers the opportunity to see other parts of Alaska, such as the wild interior of the Denali National Park. Here, the wildlife is abundant with bears, wolves, otters and more.


Shore excursions

  • A dog sledding excursion across one of Juneau’s legendary glaciers. The tour includes a visit to the musher’s camp.
  • A whale watching cruise in Auke Bay. There are often humpback and killer whale pods breaching and you’ll see harbour seals and Dall’s porpoises.
  • A crab fishing ride at Ketchikan aboard Aleutian Ballad, the crab boat that featured in Deadliest Catch.
  • Alaskan seafood is famous for a reason, and in Juneau, you can get a ticket to an all-you-can-eat salmon bake. Not just a meal, the event has live bands playing while you eat beside a roaring fire. Dishes on the menu include clam chowder, alderwood-grilled wild salmon and the local Tongass wild rice pilaf.

ASIA

With an abundance of exotic destinations, well-known cruise lines and cheap air fares, Asia is now a popular place for Australians and New Zealanders to cruise.


Singapore has become a major cruise hub, with cruise lines such as Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean and Dream Cruises homeporting year-round. The Lion City is famous for its shopping, beautiful hotels, delicious hawker food and family-friendly atmosphere – perfect for pre- and post-cruise breaks.


Cruises from here sail to Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia on a number of short and longer itineraries. Most lines offer two- to five-day itineraries. Premium and luxury cruise lines such as Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, Silversea and Crystal Cruises sail from Australia on longer voyages around the region.


Malaysia is one of the most popular countries to visit. With ports including Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Langkawi, the country has a rich colonial history, stunning beaches and lively wildlife, as well as excellent local food.


Ports such as Hong Kong and Shanghai are also home to some of the world’s biggest ships including Royal Caribbean’s technologically advanced Quantum of the Seas. They sail to popular destinations like Vietnam and Japan as well as burgeoning destination, the Philippines. Fast becoming a new favourite country to explore by cruise ship, Philippine islands such as Boracay are famous for their white sandy beaches and snorkelling and diving.


Japan’s north and south cruise regions are vastly different and lines including Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean regularly sail to sub-tropical Okinawa in the south, as well as Kyoto and Tokyo to the north, which are famous for their vibrant shopping districts and beautiful Shinto temples.


Tokyo, the Imperial City, sprawls over an immense area – encompassing temples, museums, shops and food outlets galore – so only plan to see a section of it. Try Ginza, great for luxury shopping, nightlife, bars, cafes and restaurants, or visit Tsukiji Fish Market, the world’s largest, or see as much as you can from Tokyo Skytree, Japan’s tallest building. The port of Yokohama, with vibrant waterside parks and a ramen museum, is just 40 minutes by train from central Tokyo.


Adventure and small-ship cruising is fast becoming popular in Asia, with places like Raja Ampat archipelago in Indonesia named as a hot new destination. Lines like Peregrine Windstar Cruises will take you to the smaller and lesser known ports on five-masted ships.

NEED TO KNOW


What should I pack?

Southeast Asian countries like Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia are near the equator which means it is warm and humid year round. Take summer clothing, hats, plenty of sunscreen and insect repellent, but bring a jacket for the ship, as lines will blast the air conditioning. If you are cruising from places like Japan and China during winter, it can be cold and wet so it’s best to pack thermals, a fleece jacket and rain gear.


When can I go?

Sailings from Singapore to other Southeast Asian countries run all year on cruise lines like Dream Cruises. Be aware though, that from September through to December, some Southeast Asian countries go through monsoon season. It’s best to sail to Japan during spring and autumn – it’s an economical way to perhaps get a glimpse of the cherry blossoms or fall foliage.


Where do I sail from?

Singapore, Tokyo, Japan, Shanghai, China


Who is it for?

A big ocean cruise around Asia is perfect for the entire family looking for a warm holiday. These cruises are also perfect for large groups of friends. A cruise around Japan takes cruisers to some amazing sites like the Golden Temple in Kyoto, which is perfect for couples and older groups of friends, while an itinerary sailing from Shanghai will also stop at ports in Taiwan, making it a foodies’ delight. For more adventurous cruisers, there are smaller boutique ships that take you to more remote regions.


ITINERARIES


3-5 nights

Many Asian residents don’t have long holidays so if you are sailing out of a local port you will find many shorter itineraries, which is perfect if you are tacking a cruise onto your holiday plans. A five-night round-trip sailing from Singapore will call at ports in Malaysia or Thailand to give you a sample of cruising.


7 nights and more

Longer itineraries will generally depart from Australia and include a raft of Asian countries. As well as Malaysia and Thailand, the itineraries will also visit countries like Vietnam and Indonesia, or even Brunei. Luxury cruise lines will go a step further and take you to smaller ports for smaller immersive experiences with the local community.


Shore excursions

  • A shore excursion to the Komodo Island National Park to see the famed Komodo Dragons.
  • A Tokyo after 5 excursion will take you to some of the best eats in the backstreets of the metropolis with a local guide.
  • When visiting Benoa in Bali, many cruise lines offer a shore excursion to the artist region of Ubud. It’s famed for the sacred Monkey Temple and sweeping green rice paddies.
  • Cruising in China means you may stop in Tianjin, the closest port to the imposing Great Wall of China. There are many tours which will take you to see this Wonder of the World.

AUSTRALIA

Aussies are the fastest growing market for the cruise industry, with 1.35 million of us taking a cruise in 2018. As we embrace this spectacular way to holiday, our states and territories are opening up with new ports, giving locals new options for domestic cruise.


New South Wales is known as the gateway to cruise in Australia. Sydney is Australia’s largest cruise port and for first-time cruisers, even if you live locally, there is nothing more breathtaking than seeing the Harbour Bridge and Opera House as you sail in and out of the harbour. The state is also home to cruise ports like Newcastle, north of Sydney, and Eden and Wollongong along the south coast of New South Wales. Eden is known for humpback whale sightings, especially between September and November, while Newcastle has blossomed as a regional hub with new restaurants, cafes, bars, galleries and art precincts. It also boasts some of the best surfing beaches around.


The next big cruising hub in Australia is Queensland. From here, you can cruise for just one day and you’ll reach the South Pacific. But it’s also popular for access to local destinations like Moreton Island and the Whitsunday Islands, which have white sandy beaches and colourful reefs, and of course, the Great Barrier Reef. A lesser-known but equally beautiful destination in Queensland is Fraser Island, which is the largest sand island in the world, and the only one where the rainforest grows directly from the sand.


Victoria is also fast becoming a cruise powerhouse, and offers short sailings from Melbourne to Tasmania, Adelaide and Sydney. The Port of Melbourne leads right into the heart of Victoria’s capital city, which boasts cool restaurants, street art and laneways with secret bars. Around 90 minutes from the CBD, Phillip Island is rich with marine life, and is a well-known nesting ground for fairy penguins. Researchers and conservationists have preserved this spot for the adorable birds, which parade from the beach at night to nest in a specially made enclosure.


Down in Tasmania, there are still destinations which are relatively untouched, and the state attracts nature lovers from all around the world. Freycinet Peninsula is one Tasmania’s biggest drawcards, with hiking trails for hardcore adventurers as well as some easier trails, like the 600m boardwalk to Cape Tourville Lighthouse for sweeping coastal views of Wineglass Bay.


The lovely state of South Australia is attracting thousands of cruisers with its fantastic vineyards and beautiful landscape. It’s a great destination for foodies and nature lovers alike, with cruise lines offering a range of shore excursions showcasing the best of this region. Barossa is the wine capital of Australia and home to large and small wine labels including Penfolds, Henschke, Jacob’s Creek and Wolf Blass, and celebrity chef Maggie Beer has a farm shop in the area. There are also more than 100 cellar doors in McLaren Vale, to the south of Adelaide, where you can also find gourmet produce such as hand-made cheese. State capital Adelaide is a charming small city which plays host to the annual Adelaide Fringe Festival, the second-largest in the world.


Western Australia is fondly known as the Wild West. A massive expanse of land taking up nearly half of the country, it morphs from quiet bays sprinkled with rounded rocks to plains patchworked with vines, forests with some of the tallest trees in the world and hidden gorges harbouring jagged ochre formations. Nearly all the way along its coast, the marine-blessed state is fringed with travel-brochure-perfect beaches. The state’s population of almost three million is concentrated in the fertile southwest corner, home to the Margaret River wine region and the capital Perth. In the north, the Kimberley region features ancient Aboriginal rock art, the Bungle Bungle sandstone domes and the pearling town of Broome.

NEED TO KNOW


What should I pack?

December through to February is when you’ll encounter the hottest temperatures and the highest UV, so make sure you pack plenty of sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat. It can get chilly in the evenings from March onwards in the southern states like Victoria and Tasmania so make sure you pack some warm clothing.


When can I go?

Australia’s wave season starts in November and finishes in April and the best time to sail is from November to April. Cruises can be expensive around the school holidays which are from December to January, but if you cruise in the shoulder seasons, there are more affordable itineraries. Cruises from ports in Australia do run all year round.


Where do I sail from?

Fremantle, Western Australia; Melbourne, Victoria; Adelaide, South Australia; Sydney, New South Wales; Brisbane, Queensland; Hobart, Tasmania.


Who is it for?

Australian cruises offer something for everyone – whether you’re travelling solo, as a family, with friends, or as an older couple. The major capitals of the states are burgeoning hubs with art and culture, thriving food scenes and spectacular sights, but outside the cities, there are great hiking trails, lush vineyards and plenty to explore.


ITINERARIES


4 nights

Shorter itineraries that start from four nights can take you from Sydney down to the picturesque Sapphire Coast. Or, if you’re cruising from Brisbane, a four-night itinerary cruise sails to the Whitsundays so you can snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef. These shorter itineraries will take you to an exciting destination and give you ample time to explore the ship.


5 nights and more

Longer itineraries, especially from Sydney, include circumnavigations of Australia with stops at standard destinations like Adelaide, Fremantle and Darwin, but they will also cruise to smaller ports like Burnie in Tasmania, Port Lincoln in South Australia, and Esperance and Albany in Western Australia.


Shore excursions

  • Scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland.
  • In Hobart, cruise ships dock near the Brooke Street Pier where there is a ferry to the Museum of Old and New Art. The gallery has some provocative pieces which will be the topic of conversation back onboard the ship.
  • Visit an oyster farm in Eden where you learn how they are farmed and taste them right there while you’re standing in your waders.

BALTIC & NORTHERN EUROPE

While the Mediterranean may be the most popular overseas destination for Aussie cruisers, Northern European and Baltic itineraries are seeing an increase in interest. Cruising from Southampton is a good option for first-time cruisers looking to explore destinations in Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia.


There are some stunning itineraries in Scandinavia that let cruisers visit Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland with ease. A cruise through the picturesque Norwegian fjords takes visitors to areas rich in Viking history and culture, small towns like colourful Bergen and even as far as the remote archipelago of Lofoten where you will be struck by the ice-capped mountain ridges and jagged architecture of its peaks. There are more than 1,000 fjords in Norway with seals and porpoises swimming in the blue saltwater lakes.


A Scandinavian cruise is also the gateway to the Arctic Circle. This is where cruisers can see one of the most amazing natural wonders of the world – the northern lights. Many small ship cruise lines offer added tours to see this spectacular light show.


Other popular cruise destinations include Russia, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK, and most of the major lines offer fabulous itineraries, be it on megaliner or a smaller luxury ship.


Germany offers excellent stops such as Hamburg – a typical Hamburg visit includes a tour of the city hall the grand church St Michaelis (called the Michel), the old warehouse district and the harbour promenade – and Berlin – where you can see the remnants of the historic Wall.


The Netherlands is rich with history. This tiny country, which has much of its cities still intact despite German invasion during WWII, is perfect for history buffs. Amsterdam is home to the Anne Frank Museum and the historical city centre isd a compact living museum. Everything is within walking distance, from the diamond cutters to the world-famous museums and art galleries.


In Russia, itineraties let you watch the Russian Ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg and explore the Volga River.

NEED TO KNOW


What should I pack?

As the weather can dip to single digits, polar fleece jackets and weather-proof gear should be packed. If you’re sailing during summer, the endless days means lots of sun so make sure you pack plenty of sunscreen, and an eye mask to help you sleep. If you’re sailing with an adventure line, you won’t have to worry about heavy expedition gear as the line will provide this for you.


When can I go?

There are cruises which run all year round along the Norwegian coastline. The Baltic Sea on the other hand, which can be rough, has a season that runs from May to September. The peak season is June through August.


Where do I sail from?

Stockholm, Sweden; Copenhagen, Denmark; Southampton, United Kingdom, Oslo, Norway.


Who is it for?

Generally, cruises that visit the larger cities will attract older cruisers. Those who love culture and art will also be attracted to the beautiful cities in this region. There are also some adventure options in this area that will attract active cruisers. If you’re sailing on Norwegian coast cruises, there are some unique cruise lines like local brand Hurtigruten. Once serving as a postal service for remote islands in the fjords, the line has environmentally friendly ships powered by batteries.


ITINERARIES


7 nights

Baltic Sea departures normally leave from Southampton in the United Kingdom, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo or Amsterdam. The cruise will then visit Tallinn in Estonia as well as the lovely ornate St Petersburg. For Norwegian cruises, lines will sail out of Bergen or Oslo and cruise to Trondheim, Bodø and Tromsø.


14 nights

A 14-night itinerary will take you to smaller or further afield ports. Some less-travelled destinations include Warnemünde in Germany, the Faroe Islands, and ports in Iceland, Norway and even northern Scotland. Smaller luxury cruise lines sometimes stay in St Petersburg for up to three nights.


Shore excursions

  • If you’re cruising the Arctic Circle, you may see the Northern Lights. Hurtigruten promises that if you don’t see the spectacle on a 12-day voyage, you get a free week-long cruise.
  • If you’ve already seen St Petersburg and the ship is staying in port for a few nights, it’s worth a trip to see Russia’s capital, Moscow.
  • Take a dog sledding shore excursion while you’re in Norway, Sweden or Finland. You’ll get to meet local mushers, who have been in the profession for generations.
  • The Old Town of Tallinn in Estonia is made up of medieval architecture, domed Russian cathedrals and outdoor markets. A bike tour is a scenic way to see the city.

NEW ZEALAND

The allure of the Land of the Long White Cloud, our closest neighbour, is an ideal destination for cruisers who love nature.


More than 129,000 Aussies cruised to New Zealand in 2018, and Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises and luxury lines like Silversea, Seabourn and Crystal Cruises are all offering New Zealand destinations.


Highlights include anchoring in Akaroa’s splendid bay and tendering ashore, and sailing the Queen Charlotte Sound towards Picton. But all are surpassed by Milford Sound and its fellow fjords on the South Island’s east coast, some of the most dramatic landscapes you could possibly enjoy from the comfort of a cruise ship, with waterfalls, wild cliffs backed by snowy peaks and, more often than not, moody mists that make for great photo opportunities.


Some 30 ships visit New Zealand each season, either as part of trans-Pacific voyages or on New Zealand cruises from Australian ports. If you don’t want to brave the sometimes turbulent Tasman Sea, CMV's Columbus also has New Zealand-only cruises out of Auckland. Small-ship expedition lines such as Silversea, Ponant or local company Heritage Expeditions take more adventurous cruisers off the well-sailed waters by heading to New Zealand’s windswept sub-Antarctic islands such as Campbell Island, the Snares and the Auckland Islands.


New Zealand’s port towns also offer plenty of culture and history. You can learn about Maori traditions on shore excursions to Rotorua, or early contact with the Europeans at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds in the beautiful Bay of Islands region. Akaroa has unusual French colonial influences, Dunedin boasts a castle and whisky distillery straight out of Scotland, and Napier’s 1930s architecture recalls the American jazz age.


Wellington combines old-fashioned cosiness with avant-garde flair and a terrific, contemporary dining scene, and its Te Papa Museum is outstanding, while Auckland has big-city attractions embedded in wild landscapes, as well as one of the world’s loveliest harbours. Of course, you’ll also find a huge range of adrenaline sports and experiences, as befits the nation that gave the world bungee jumping.

NEED TO KNOW


What should I pack?

Even during summer, New Zealand can get chilly. It’s best to bring light layers, a good waterproof jacket, and if you plan on trekking, make sure you pack broken-in hiking boots. Pack lots of protective sun gear like hats and sunscreen. Although it’s not as hot, the UV is strong in New Zealand so you can get burnt easily. Also pack plenty of insect repellent – New Zealand is notorious for sandflies.


When can I go?

The New Zealand cruise season runs from early October into late April, with December, January and February the peak months. Few ships visit at other times of year, since winters are chilly. New Zealand weather can be unpredictable even in summer and with 2,813 kilometres to navigate between its northernmost and southernmost points, expect temperature changes. The Bay of Islands is subtropical, while destinations such as Dunedin or Stewart Island lie further south than Hobart.


Where do I sail from?

Auckland, Wellington


Who is it for?

The warmth of Kiwi hospitality, their good humour and scope of activities makes New Zealand an appealing destination to a wide range of travellers. Families, adventure seekers, food and wine lovers to mature couples… it may sound cliché, but there is something for everyone. In New Zealand’s South Island, particularly around the Milford Sound, many cruise lines offer adventure activities like white water rafting. Places like Marlborough have an abundance of wineries and food producers.


ITINERARIES


7 nights

Many New Zealand cruises depart from either Sydney, Australia, or Auckland. A seven-night cruise will give you a good snapshot into the wonders of the Land of the Long White Cloud. Itineraries will normally include scenic cruising through places like the Fiordland National Park, or the Milford Sound where your ship will glide through the calm waters flanked by forested mountain faces.


12 nights and more

A longer cruise around New Zealand means calls at more ports, giving visitors the chance to discover the varying landscapes of the country from north to south. Expect more immersive shore excursions, and even an occasional overnight.


Shore excursions

  • Try New Zealand’s fine wine on a winery tour at Hawke’s Bay.
  • Active cruisers should swim with wild Hector’s dolphins in Akaroa Harbour.
  • The remote town of Invercargill has fewer than 2,000 residents but visit the Bluff Maritime Museum. Or if you’re there in the right the season, try the famous Bluff oysters.
  • On an expedition cruise, itineraries may take you to Steward Island. Here, the lush Rakiura National Park, which covers 90 per cent of the island, offers intrepid hikes.