1. Home
  2. Destinations
  3. Australia & New Zealand
  4. Kimberley Cruise Tips
Talbot Bay, The Kimberly, West Australia (Photo: Keith Michael Taylor/Shutterstock)

Kimberley Cruise Tips

Cruising the Kimberley is an experience that features highly on bucket lists, whether it's a Kimberley coast cruise, taking a smaller ship down shallow rivers or a cruise and land combination.

This untouched wilderness area, in Australia's north-western corner, covers more than 423,000 sq. km. From thundering waterfalls and dramatic tidal flows, to saltwater crocodiles, mighty boab trees and red plains that seem to stretch on forever, there are incredible sights (and photo opportunities) at every turn. As one of the first parts of the globe to be inhabited thousands of years ago, the region also has great cultural significance and extensive Aboriginal rock art.

Unfortunately, the other thing that is incredible about cruising the Kimberley is the price -- you won't get much change from $10,000 per person, with luxurious trips costing even more. But for those who can afford it, a Kimberley cruise will not disappoint.

Updated December 6, 2018

Best Time for Kimberley Cruises

Kimberley cruises can only operate during the dry season, which runs from April to September. Outside these times, the water is so high and the waterfalls are so powerful that it isn't safe to cruise. April and May are the best months to visit as waterfalls are in full flow at the end of the wet season.

Cruising Kimberley, Australia

Kimberley Cruise Lines

Boutique ships and purpose-built expedition vessels offer itineraries ranging from seven to 14 nights during the Kimberley cruise season. Some lines such as Coral Expeditions and APT have several ships in the region during cruise season while others offer a few select voyages. Other Kimberley cruise options include Ponant, Silversea, and True North Adventure Cruises plus a handful of smaller operators. All lines carry an expedition team and zodiac vessels for off-ship adventuring.

Kimberley Cruise Itineraries

Kimberley cruises travel from Darwin (or, occasionally, Kununurra in Western Australia) to Broome and vice versa. All of the cruise lines visit almost identical ports. These include Talbot Bay, which has massive 12m tides, Montgomery Reef, and the soaring red cliffs of the Hunter River. Other highlights include King George Falls, which thunder over an 80m drop, and rock art at Jar Island, which dates back more than 20,000 years.

Find a Cruise

Kimberley Cruise Port Highlights

King Cascades: Located in Prince Regent National Park, this terraced waterfall can only be reached by boat. Make sure you change into your swimmers on the way to King Cascades. When the ship cruises close enough to put its bow under the tumbling water, get someone to take your photo enjoying a 'shower' surrounded by the wild beauty of the national park.

Talbot Bay: Sir David Attenborough described the mighty 12-m tides at Talbot Bay as "one the greatest natural wonders of the world". While you can view the phenomenon from the expedition ship, many adventurous travellers opt for a high-speed boat ride through the gaps in the sandstone walls to experience Talbot Bay's famous Horizontal Falls up close. Although these are called waterfalls, the flow actually consists of intense tidal currents pouring through a 300m gap in the McLarty Ranges.

Raft Point: Raft Point's soaring red cliffs will have you reaching for your camera. But it's the Aboriginal rock art that draws an even bigger gasp. The secluded Aboriginal rock art gallery at Raft Point includes Wandjina drawings of the ancient spirits who were believed to renew the land during the big wet, which happened every year. If you look closely, you can also see the delicate, graceful Bradshaw figures, which were painted over during the creation of the Wandjina drawings.

Mitchell Falls: Located in Mitchell National Park, these four-tiered falls are one of the most famous sights in the entire Kimberley region. They were created by the Mitchell River and its tributaries, which created spectacular gorges and waterfalls throughout the sandstone plateau.

King George Falls

Kimberley Cruise Tips

Book Your Cruise Early: The Kimberley cruise season is short and the most popular ships and itineraries often sell out far in advance. Book early to get your preferred ship and preferred dates, especially if you're travelling on one of the more affordable cruise lines.

Fitness Counts: The Kimberley can be a challenging destination for unfit travellers and those with mobility problems. Most onshore trips involve walking over uneven terrain, sometimes for extended periods. There's also a lot of climbing in and out of Zodiacs, even on expedition ships with a hydraulic lift that allows passengers to enter the excursion boats more easily.

Seeing Mitchell Falls Is Expensive: Mitchell Falls is one of Australia's most famous, and most photographed, waterfalls. Unfortunately, it's also difficult to reach. You've got two options when it comes to seeing Mitchell Falls: a challenging six-hour return hike over difficult terrain or a helicopter flight. Your only option as a cruise passenger is the helicopter flight (which isn't included in the cost of your cruise).

Extend Your Pre- and Post-Cruise Stay: Darwin and Broome are more than simply a jumping-on-or-off point for your Kimberley cruise. Spend a few extra days exploring the attractions and colourful, multicultural history of these two towns. Don't miss the sunset at Cable Beach in Broome and Darwin's Mindil Beach, which also has a lively market on Thursday and Sunday nights.

Popular on Cruise Critic

8 Best Luxury Cruise Ships
The moment you step aboard a luxury cruise ship, a hostess is at your arm proffering a glass of bubbly while a capable room steward offers to heft your carry-on as he escorts you to what will be your home-away-from-home for the next few days. You stow your things (likely in a walk-in closet) and then emerge from your suite to get the lay of the ship. As you walk the decks, friendly crew members greet you ... by name. How can that be? You just set foot onboard! First-class, personalized service is just one of the hallmarks of luxury cruise lines. You can also expect exotic itineraries, varying degrees of inclusivity in pricing, fine wines and gourmet cuisine as well as universally high crew-to-passenger ratios. That being the case, you might think any old luxury cruise ship will do, but that's not quite true. Like people, cruise ships have their own unique personalities -- and some will be more suited to your vacation style than others. Lines like SeaDream might not offer the most spacious suites, but their intimate yachts can stealthily visit ports that large ships can't manage. Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruises are owned by the same parent company but Regent offers a completely inclusive vacation experience, while Oceania draws travelers with a more independent streak. Take a look at Cruise Critic's list of best luxury cruise lines and ships to see which one resonates with you.
How To Choose a Cruise Ship Cabin: What You Need to Know
Your room on a cruise ship is called a cabin (or stateroom) and is akin to a hotel room, but typically much smaller. Choosing a cruise ship cabin can be fun and challenging at the same time, and not just a little bit frustrating on occasion. Cabins fall into different types or "categories," and some cruise lines will present as many as 20 or more categories per ship. Before you get overwhelmed, it's helpful to remember that there are essentially only four types of cabins on any cruise vessel: Inside: the smallest-sized room, with no window to the outside Outside: a room with a window or porthole (a round window) with a view to the outside, often similarly sized to an inside cabin or a bit larger; also known as oceanview Balcony: a room featuring a verandah that allows you to step outside without going up to a public deck Suite: a larger cabin, often with separate living and sleeping areas, and a wide variety of extra amenities and perks It's the permutations (size, view, location, amenities and price, for example) of the four basic cabin types that can make choosing difficult. In addition to knowing your cabin options, you need to know yourself: Do you tend to get seasick? Do you prefer to nest peaceably on your balcony rather than hanging with the crowd around the pool area? Conversely, is your idea of a stateroom simply a place to flop into bed at 1 a.m. -- no fancy notions necessary? Are there certain amenities you are willing to splurge on, or can you simply not justify paying for unnecessary perks? The answers will help guide you toward selecting the best stateroom for your money. If you're feeling overwhelmed by choice, we'll help you get started with this guide to choosing the best cruise cabins for you and your travel party.
6 Cruise Ship Cabins to Avoid
You might expect loud noises, close quarters and crazy maneuvers in the dance club onboard your cruise ship -- but not in your cabin. Even if you don't plan to spend much time there, it should be a restful and private place so you can maintain that much-needed vacation stamina. To help you do so, we've compiled a list of cabins you'll want to avoid booking if closet-like dimensions or scraping chair sounds overhead aren't appealing to you. Heed our advice, and you might be feeling a bit less claustrophobic and a tad more refreshed come disembarkation.