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6 Great Reasons To Go On A Domestic Cruise In Australia

Tiana Templeman

Last updated
Jul 27, 2023

Read time
5 min read

International destinations often come to mind when Australians think of cruising but it is hard to beat a domestic cruise.

What is a domestic cruise? -- Quite simply, one that does not leave Australian waters and visits only Australian ports.

You will still need travel insurance on a domestic cruise in Australia -- but for a non-urgent medical issue, you can just visit your GP in port.

Here are six reasons Aussies should consider cruising in their own backyard.

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No Passports, No Worries

Provided your cruise doesn't leave Australia, there is no passport required for flights to and from your departure port or to get on board the ship. With no customs and immigration procedures at the wharf, there are fewer forms to fill out too.

Simply show your Australian Government recognised photo ID such as a driver's licence (or Medicare card for under 18s). If your cruise heads into international waters, usually Willis Island if you're doing an east coast cruise, you can purchase duty free alcohol to bring home too.

Great Choice Of Ships And Ports

Aussies are being rewarded by the major cruise lines with a greater choice of ships, itineraries, and destinations. Take a look at and you'll see what we mean.

You could have a right royal time in Tasmania with Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas explore the Great Barrier Reef with P&O Cruises' spend the day on Moreton Island with Carnival Splendor, or enjoy an elegant sailing experience that harks back to the Golden Age of cruising on Cunard's Queen Elizabeth.

This summer, for the first time, Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Magic will offer short cruises (two to four nights) within Australia, and Virgin Voyages’ adults-only Resilient Lady will sail from Melbourne to Tasmania. In winter, the Kimberley, Northern Territory and the Whitsundays are the warmest places to go with lines such as Coral Expeditions, True North, Ponant and Silversea.

Another great option is to complete a circumnavigation of the whole country, which takes around a month; half-circumnavigations are also available. Check out the itineraries offered by cruise lines such as P&O, Princess, Cunard, Viking, Oceania and Holland America Line.

Even if you have already seen a lot of Australia, there is sure to be a local cruise that will tempt you to board a ship this year. And, unlike cruisers from overseas, you don’t have to fly across the world to do it.

Jetlag Isn't an Issue

Let's face it, whenever we Australians fly overseas to join a cruise and combine a long flight with a big time change, there is little chance of escaping the dreaded jetlag.

Trying to push through jetlag means you'll probably miss the first few days of your cruise as it is all-too-tempting to nap on the ship. Been there, done that! If you take a domestic cruise, you can avoid flying completely by driving to your nearest port.

But when you cruise in your own backyard, the biggest time change you'll have to deal with is an hour or two -- which will not affect your cruise one bit (just lie in for longer).

You're a Local

Aussie cruisers visiting Australian ports don’t need to learn the language, buy (and work out) a foreign currency, or stress about what shore excursions to do. Even if you have never visited a port in Australia before, there is sure to be a friend, relative, or colleague who has.

Cruising in Australia is also a fantastic way to meet up with friends in other cities. Give them the heads up you'll be in town for the day and arrange a time to catch up at a cool café or pub. After all, locals always know the best spots to eat and drink.

Your Dollar Goes Further

On an Australian cruise there are no less-than-favourable exchange rates in port, no expensive international flights, and you won’t need to buy departure port accommodation either. Australians can fly interstate on the same day they board the ship or cruise from their hometown.

You’ll still need travel insurance if you go on an Australia cruise as your Medicare card isn’t valid onboard the ship, even if you're sailing in Australian waters. Travel insurance also covers you for things like emergency medical evacuation, lost luggage, and travel delays. Travel insurers like Cover-More, Allianz, and NIB Travel Insurance offer cruise insurance. If you want to avoid paying the excess for a minor non-urgent medical issue, you also have the option to visit a local GP in port on an Australia cruise.

With long travel distances, and some expensive cities when it comes to accommodation, Australia is best explored by cruise ship for an easy, cost-effective way to see a whole lot of the country. Not only are your food, accommodation, transport, and entertainment costs covered, those long distances are a pleasure rather than a chore when you are on a cruise.

You Can Do It Together

If you've been feeling guilty about not keeping up to date with what your brothers and sisters (and their partners) have been up to, a local cruise holiday with your siblings and their kids could be the ideal way to reconnect.

An Australia cruise is also the perfect choice for a multigenerational holiday, family reunion or get-together with friends. With so much to see and do, both on board and at the various ports, there is sure to be something to please everyone.

It’s easy to manage different budgets too as your group can choose a mutually convenient local departure port which cuts down on airfares (or cuts them out completely). There is also onboard accommodation to suit everyone's budget and travelling style.

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