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Cruises to Whitsundays (Airlie Beach, Hamilton Island)

Whitsundays (Photo:Tanya Puntti/Shutterstock)

About Whitsundays (Airlie Beach, Hamilton Island)

Taking in the stunning reef, picturesque islands and luxurious hotels that make up the Whitsundays, you might find it hard to believe the islands are the result of volcanoes that raged 110 million years ago. Captain Cook, who sailed through on June 4, 1770, named the collection of islands. Of the 74 islands, only eight are inhabited with resorts.

The region offers more than enough diversions to occupy the curious traveller, with a bevy of wildlife on land and sea, high-end eateries, family-friendly lagoons and romantic sandy beaches.

The Whitsundays has recovered from the devastating cyclone of 2017 and is looking its pristine best. It experiences an average of 274 sunny days a year, making it the perfect spot to soak up some rays and explore its naturally beautiful features on land or at sea. The average water temperature around the Whitsundays is 26 degrees Celsius, making the jewel-like islands paradise for diving and snorkelling.

Of course, it's just as possible to appreciate the ocean from the shoreline -- especially from one of the many sumptuous seafood restaurants that line the coast. Access for cruise passengers is via ship tender boats to the purpose-built Port of Airlie Marina or the Coral Sea Marina, formerly the Abell Point Marina.

Perched on Australia's northeast coast, the mainland port acts as both a gateway to the islands and is an attractive beach destination in its own right. It has a lively and social atmosphere -- with many restaurants, cafes and bars for evening guests with boutique shops, day spas and cafes. Travellers can take daytrips to the reef, Daydream Island and Whitsunday Island, home to Whitehaven Beach, from Airlie Beach.

  • More about Whitsundays (Airlie Beach, Hamilton Island)

  • Why go to Whitsundays (Airlie Beach, Hamilton Island)?

  • Whitsundays (Airlie Beach, Hamilton Island) Cruise Port Facilities?

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Regatta
Regatta

20 Night
Australia CruiseDetails

386 Reviews
Leaving:Sydney
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
Mar 10, 2025
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Viking Sky
Viking Sky

120 Night
120 Night Viking World JourneysDetails

1,088 Reviews
Leaving:Los Angeles
Cruise Line:Viking Ocean Cruises
Jan 6, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Viking Orion
Viking Orion (Photo: Cruise Critic)

92 Night
Grand Pacific ExplorerDetails

494 Reviews
Leaving:Vancouver
Cruise Line:Viking Ocean Cruises
Sep 11, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Viking Sky
Viking Sky

137 Night
137 Night Viking World CruiseDetails

1,088 Reviews
Cruise Line:Viking Ocean Cruises
Dec 20, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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120 Night
120 Night Viking World JourneysDetails

57 Reviews
Leaving:Los Angeles
Cruise Line:Viking Ocean Cruises
Jan 8, 2023
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120 Night
120 Night Viking World JourneysDetails

57 Reviews
Leaving:Los Angeles
Cruise Line:Viking Ocean Cruises
Jan 9, 2024
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18 Night
South Pacific CruiseDetails

230 Reviews
Leaving:Sydney
Cruise Line:Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Jan 26, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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137 Night
137 Night Viking World CruiseDetails

57 Reviews
Cruise Line:Viking Ocean Cruises
Dec 23, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite

30 Night
Australia,new Zealand & IndonesiaDetails

494 Reviews
Leaving:Bali
Cruise Line:Viking Ocean Cruises
Nov 19, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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30 Night
Australia,new Zealand & IndonesiaDetails

494 Reviews
Leaving:Bali
Cruise Line:Viking Ocean Cruises
Nov 13, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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78 Night
Australia,asia & AlaskaDetails

494 Reviews
Leaving:Vancouver
Cruise Line:Viking Ocean Cruises
Sep 11, 2024
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30 Night
Australia,new Zealand & IndonesiaDetails

494 Reviews
Leaving:Auckland
Cruise Line:Viking Ocean Cruises
Feb 16, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite

30 Night
Australia,new Zealand & IndonesiaDetails

494 Reviews
Leaving:Auckland
Cruise Line:Viking Ocean Cruises
Feb 13, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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50 Night
World CruiseDetails

386 Reviews
Leaving:Sydney
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
Dec 22, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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34 Night
World CruiseDetails

386 Reviews
Leaving:Auckland
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
Feb 24, 2025
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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More about Whitsundays (Airlie Beach, Hamilton Island)

Why go to Whitsundays (Airlie Beach, Hamilton Island)?

Pros:

The main attraction, Whitehaven, is the most photographed beach in Australia

Cons:

One day in paradise is not enough

Bottom Line:

A perfect place for sailing the turquoise waters that surround 74 mostly uninhabited islands

Whitsundays (Airlie Beach, Hamilton Island) Cruise Port Facilities?

Cruise passengers in Airlie Beach are greeted by Volunteer Cruise Ship Ambassadors, a program coordinated by Tourism Whitsundays. The ambassadors are passionate about the Whitsundays and are there to provide information on transfers and promote the region. You will find a cafe, boutique, kiosk and Cruise Whitsundays tour desk at the terminal. There are no ATMs at the terminal.

Most people will want to take the short walk or shuttle bus to the main street of Airlie Beach, where there are many options for shopping, restaurants and bars, as well as several tourist information desks. It is a 10-minute stroll from the Cruise Whitsundays terminal through the Port of Airlie restaurant precinct to the start of the main street of Airlie Beach.

Good to Know?

The North Queensland sun can be harsh, so cover up and apply sunscreen before you head outdoors, even on cloudy days. Even if you aren't prone to sunburn, a hat and sunglasses are also essential in the Whitsundays.

October to May is the high-risk stinger season, so it is best to wear a protective wetsuit when swimming in the ocean during this time.

Getting Around?

On Foot: The flat, scenic boardwalk around Airlie Beach makes it a pleasant walking area that is great for people watching.

By Taxi: You can book a ride with Whitsunday Taxis through Tourism Whitsundays (07 4948 5900) 24 hours a day or call 131 008 if you require a taxi straight away.

By Bus: To get farther afield, Whitsunday Transit offers a daily bus service connecting Airlie Beach to Proserpine, Cannonvale, Jubilee Pocket and onto Shute Harbour from designated bus stops every 30 to 60 minutes.

By Car: Car rental options at Airlie Beach include Avis, Hertz and Thrifty car rentals, all of which have outlets there. Alternatively, local rental companies include Fun Rentals (21 Carlo Dr, Cannonvale; 0414 825 039).

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

The currency is the Australian dollar. There are extensive ATM facilities throughout Airlie Beach (within a five-minute walk of the marina). Most places accept mainstream credit cards.

Language?

English, spoken with a strong Australian accent.


Whitsundays (Airlie Beach, Hamilton Island) Cruise Reviews
Another crew that was experienced with recreational snorkelers and I had a wonderful experience. Read More
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George I
Lovely port of call , lovely little town with some nice restaurants to eat and drink in , nice swimming pool as well there .Read More
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Eviemae 2014
Bus tour of sightsRead More
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GICNJC
Really good free swimming lagoon.Read More
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jillbaylis

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