The Hundred Mile Horizon
The cruising industry in Australasia is growing at the fastest rate in the world, and a record number of cruise ships will visit Australia during the 2012 and 2013 cruise season. The seven capital city ports (arrive a few days early if coming from overseas to overcome jet lag and look around) in themselves are tourism magnets with their animal parks, local architectures (think Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge), ruins of early settlements, bush scenery, neverending beaches, and fashion shopping. To the NE is the Great Barrier Reef with its 3000 reef systems and coral cays.
To the NW is the dramatic Kimberley region of coastal rivers, aboriginal sites, crocodiles, fishing, and diving. Large cruise ships of Pando Cruises Australia, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean all share the Australian market. Luxury small ships of Regent Seven Seas and Silverseas include Australian waters in their SE Asian itineraries. Six explorer vessels with specialist knowledge of the Australian coastline come from Coral Princess Cruises, North Star Cruises, and Orion.
Expedition Cruises. More and more cruise lines head for ‘Down Under’ in world cruise sectors. Circumnavigate Australia, or go only half-way (Sydney to Fremantle), with an option to include New Zealand or Bali. Choose from half a dozen large cruise ships. A few vessels depart Sydney for 10 nights around the Great Barrier Reef. Or, depart Sydney for Melbourne and Tasmania over 8 nights. Solar eclipse cruises in November include Oosterdam ex Sydney, Celebrity Millennium, Honolulu to Sydney, and Coral Princess Cruises ex Cairns. Very popular are explorer itineraries offered by the classy small vessels that reach exotic coastal sites by Zodiac inflatables or helicopter. These sail regular itineraries to the Great Barrier Reef, Kimberley Coast, and cross the Far North. Coral Princess Cruises has two vessels based in Cairns Townsville.