Australia & New Zealand Cruises - Choosing An Australia & New Zealand Cruise
by Ralph Grizzle. An award-winning travel writer, and recognized cruise ship expert.
Cruises in Australia combine cosmopolitan cities with lush jungles, exotic wildlife, white-sand beaches and coral reefs. It’s no surprise that explorers, artists, writers and visitors have been coming here to cruise since at least the 18th century, when Captain Cook and his colleagues first arrived.
A continent and a nation, Australia features the desert expanses of the Outback, where you’ll find kangaroos, koalas, wombats and the platypus. Equally stunning is the Great Barrier Reef, an underwater wonderland teeming with marine life.
Australia also boasts breathtaking cities, such as Sydney and Melbourne. Often called the most spectacular harbor in the world to enter via a cruise ship, Sydney’s famed Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge await guests on deck and evoke the spirit of “G’Day!”
Cruisers also have a chance to explore inland. Cruisetours, which are tours offered before and after cruises, typically are offered in Australia and allow passengers to get deep into the Outback to admire the giant red monolith known as Ayer’s Rock and the ochre domed rocks known as the Olgas. Other cruisetours take pre- or post-cruisers to the Great Barrier Reef.
Though there are nuances among itineraries, most Australia cruises run 12 days or longer, and nearly all include a mix of cruising Australia’s east coast and Tasmania (the Australian island state) with New Zealand’s North Island and South Island. Some extended itineraries, often more than 30 days in length, also feature Asia.
New Zealand is comprised of the South Island and North Island. New Zealand boasts an abundance of natural attractions and recreational opportunities hard to rival. Only in Auckland, for example, can cruise passengers board an America’s Cup yacht to sail past the America’s Cup Village, with its super yachts. Cruise passengers also can retrace the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, visiting some of the best-known sites from the film.
For fjords of a different color, sail throughout New Zealand to the Fjordland National Park via the Dusky, Doubtful and Milford sounds, and explore the verdant hills and snow-sprinkled mountaintops of the region. Sailing during the summer months of October through February south of the equator, the lush sounds of New Zealand are a photographer’s paradise, boasting tree-covered peaks and a picturesque backdrop to the warm-weather cruises. Also on these cruises, passengers will experience an amazing view of White Island Volcano — New Zealand’s most active volcano — and its frequent explosive eruptions. The island is home to a large colony of Australian Gannets, and marine life can be seen in the area including whales and dolphins.
Remember, with seasons reversed in the Northern and Southern hemispheres, the major cruise lines typically operate “Down Under” from November through March.