Experience cruising at its best along one of the world’s most stunning coastlines, over the undersea wonderland of the Great Barrier Reef.
Golden surf beaches and towering cliffs line the coast of Queensland, with a lush hinterland of rainforest beyond. Just offshore, a trail of islands and coral atolls leads the way from bustling Brisbane in the south to tropical Cairns in the far north.
Cruise passengers may spot whales, dolphins and even dugongs, turtles and manta rays from the ship, and on shore take a crocodile tour, visit a turtle hospital, or spot koalas in the trees on Magnetic Island. Queensland’s Indigenous cultural experiences range from beach walks to rainforest and art tours, to famous dance experiences. Talk to your cruise lines about excursions.
Ask the Expert - Why Cruise Queensland?
'Cruise passengers revel in the diverse range of experiences that can be had at Queensland’s 13 destinations. The chance to get to know a friendly local and discover what we love about living here, is one of the biggest things that sets us apart.' Julie O'Brien, Manager Cruise, Tourism and Events Queensland.
- Queensland occupies Australia’s north-eastern corner, on the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean.
- Known as “the sunshine state”, Queensland’s coastal strip is temperate all year thanks to warm ocean waters, with a monsoonal wet season in the far north from November to April.
- The state contains six World Heritage listed preservation areas: Fossil Mammal Sites, Gondwana Rainforests, Fraser Island, Lamington National Park, the Wet Tropics of Queensland and of course, the Great Barrier Reef.
- As the largest living structure on the planet, stretching 2300 kilometres, the Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space, but is most spectacular when seen up close.
- Tourism is Queensland's leading tertiary industry with around 650,000 cruise passengers visiting each year and demand growing.
- Queensland has 13 cruise ship destinations: Brisbane, Moreton Island, Mooloolaba, Fraser Island, Gladstone, Hamilton Island, Airlie Beach, Townsville, Trinity Wharf Cairns, Yorkey’s Knob, Port Douglas, Cooktown, and Thursday and Lizard Islands.
- The state capital of Brisbane has two terminals – Portside Cruise Terminal and Port of Brisbane Grain Terminal. A third - Luggage Point Cruise Terminal - will be in operation by 2019.
- Brisbane Airport is 9.64km from the Cruise Port with daily international, regional and domestic services.
- Cairns Airport is 8km from the Port of Cairns with interstate and domestic flights as well as flights from Asia-Pacific region.
- Time in Queensland is GMT +10.
Must See Destinations
Brisbane – Port city
Brisbane is a culturally diverse city with plenty for visitors to enjoy, including live music, theatres, museums and international cuisine. To the north and south are the famous beaches of Surfer’s Paradise and the Gold Coast, rainforest vistas, rugged mountain ranges, waterfalls, clear mountain streams and ancient trees. Guests can tour the animal sanctuaries for an up-close wildlife encounter.
Fraser Island – A stopover for some cruise lines
World Heritage Listed Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island with huge dune beaches including Seventy Five Mile Beach. Native Aboriginal tribes call this island K’Gari, meaning paradise. The island is home to ancient rainforests, sand dunes, fresh water lakes and streams, and an abundance of birds and wildlife.
Hamilton Island & Airlie Beach – A stopover for some cruise lines
The Whitsundays is in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, with 74 tropical islands dotting the Coral Sea, and a lively mainland hub at Airlie Beach. Visitors enjoy sailing and island hopping, spectacular beaches, national parks, snorkelling and diving on the reef, island golfing, watersports, skydiving and memorable dining.
Port Douglas – A stopover for some cruise lines
Boasting a perfect tropical climate, Port Douglas is a sophisticated coastal resort village on the doorstep of the World Heritage Listed icons of the Daintree Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef. Beautiful beaches, bustling beachside markets, great dining, art, shopping and spa pampering are all on offer.
Cairns/Yorkeys Knob – Port
The gateway to the heart of Tropical North Queensland, the Port of Cairns is one of the country’s busiest cruise destinations. Take a day trip out to the Great Barrier Reef and Tropic Rainforest, explore the food and wine region of the Tablelands, experience local Indigenous culture or get up close with Australia’s famous wildlife.
Thursday Island – A stopover for some lines by request
Off Cape York Peninsula lies Queensland’s hidden gem, Thursday Island, where guests are welcomed by the Torres Strait Islanders whilst discovering World War II history and an abundance of wildlife, including dolphins, dugongs and turtles.
Must Do Experiences
- Explore Brisbane from the river on the CityCat Ferry.
- Catch a perfect wave at Surfer’s Paradise on the Gold Coast.
- Meet a Koala at the Australia Zoo.
- Watch wild dolphins swim right by the ship.
- Catch a didgeridoo performance at Tjapukai Aboriginal Park.
- Take an outer reef cruise and snorkel over beautiful coral beds.
- Visit the pristine white sands and warm waters of Airlie Beach.
- Dine on fresh seafood after sailing through the Whitsunday Islands.
- Ride over spectacular Barron Falls on the Kuranda Scenic Rail or Skyrail.
- Catch sight of the famous Ulysses butterfly in the Daintree Rainforest.
During summer, international transit ships visit Queensland, stopping at one or several of the state’s 13 cruise destinations. The main voyages for the domestic fleet are up the Queensland coast, or to the Pacific Islands or Papua New Guinea. The Pacific Jewel cruises from Sydney to Moreton Island, whereas Pacific Dawn cruises the Pacific.
The local fleet
Brisbane: Carnival Cruises/P&O Pacific Dawn, Pacific Aria, Princess Cruises Sun Princess (homeported seasonally).
Cairns: Pacific Eden from Sept 2015 to November 2016.
Carnival: Pacific Aria, Pacific Eden, Pacific Jewel, Pacific Dawn, Pacific Pearl
Celebrity Cruises: Celebrity Solstice
Crystal: Crystal Serenity
Cunard: Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary 2
Fred Olsen Cruise Lines: Black Watch
Holland America: Amsterdam
Oceania: MS Insignia
P& O Princess Cruises: Sun Princess, Dawn Princess, Sea Princess, Golden Princess
P&O: Arcadia, Oriana
Phoenix Reisin: The Albatross
Royal Caribbean: Radiance of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas, Legend of the Seas