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Cruises to Port Arthur

Port Arthur (Photo:Mo Wu/Shutterstock)

About Port Arthur

Port Arthur is located on the southern tip of Tasmania's isolated Tasman peninsula about 60 kilometres from Hobart, is home to about 500 residents. The allure for cruise ships is not to visit the tiny town, but instead to see one of the world's largest and best preserved 19th-century penal colonies in an incongruously beautiful bayside setting.

The Port Arthur Historic Site is an impressive open-air museum that comprises 30 buildings, ruins and restored period houses and is encircled by brooding hills on a cove that leads out to a large harbour and the chilly waters of the Southern Ocean. The settlement is spread over 40 hectares (100 acres) and has undergone a major restoration and facelift. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it's also one of Australia's most significant historic places and one of Tasmania's top attractions.

Port Arthur is undoubtedly a spooky place with a long history of horror, not only as a penal colony, but also for an infamous modern-day massacre. On April 28, 1996, a lone gunman arrived at the site and started shooting, killing 35 innocent victims and injuring 23. There's a memorial at the site where the shooting took place.

Originally named after George Arthur, the lieutenant governor of Van Diemen's Land (later Tasmania), the town's colonial history dates back to 1830 when it was designed as a small timber station. It quickly became important within the penal system of the colonies, a settlement hacked out of the bush and built on convict hard labour. Men, women and even children, many hailing from rural areas or the big city slums of Great Britain who had been convicted more than once for crimes including stealing were punished by being unceremoniously transported to the Australian colonies. Ironically, these unfortunates were probably better fed and clothed in Port Arthur than they were at home. But it was a hard, isolated life and they were prisoners set to work as loggers or housemaids.

In the first decade of its existence, Port Arthur was a hive of industry, including timber, ship building, shoe making, blacksmithing and brick making.
Then, in the 1840s, when the convict population exceeded 1,100, there was a consolidation of these industries within the penal structure of the settlement. In 1842, a huge flour mill and granary and a hospital were added to the line-up of buildings. In 1848, the first stone was laid for the Separate Prison, where repeat offenders were housed. Over time, the settlement expanded geographically, too, as its boundaries and convicts pushed out into the encircling hills to extract more valuable timber.

The relocation of convicts ended in 1853, which eventually led to fewer criminals being transported to Port Arthur. But the settlement remained one of the few secondary punishment stations in Tasmania and continued to receive men sentenced to prison. In 1857, the old flour mill and granary was converted into a large penitentiary and 1864 saw the beginning of construction on the last great project at the site -- the Asylum. The settlement's turbulent and colourful life began to wind down in the 1870s as the number of convicts dwindled, and those left behind were too old, sick or insane to work. Port Arthur finally closed in 1877.

The Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority has overseen the settlement since 1987, along with the Coal Mines Historic Site, near Saltwater River about a half hour's drive from Port Arthur, and the Cascades Female Factory Site in South Hobart. Today, the Port Arthur site has beautifully restored buildings, English trees and manicured gardens, giving it a picturesque quality.


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  • 12 Night
    Cruise to Port Arthur

    Leaving:
    Perth
    Visiting:
    Margaret River, Albany ... see more
    Cruise Line:
    Princess Cruises
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    Cruise Itinerary

    12 Night Cruise to Port Arthur Route (Princess Cruises)
    • Day 1
      Perth (Fremantle)
    • Day 2
      Margaret River
    • Day 3
      Albany (Australia)
    • Day 4
      Cruising
    • Day 5
      Cruising
    • Day 6
      Adelaide
    • Day 7
      Port Lincoln
    • Day 8
      Kangaroo Island
    • Day 9
      Cruising
    • Day 10
      Port Arthur
    • Day 10
      Hobart
    • Day 11
      Hobart
    • Day 12
      Cruising
    • Day 13
      Sydney (Australia)
    Ship Details

    Sapphire Princess - Princess Cruises

    Pros

    After 2018 refurb, ship sports a new kids' club, refreshed spa and top-notch entertainment

    Cons

    Bathrooms still in need of a refurbishment

    Bottom Line

    A good-value ship packed full of entertainment and activities

    Reviews

    Sapphire Princess Reviews

    Cruise Critic Editor Ratings
    Overall
    4.5/5
    Cabins4.0
    Dining4.0
    Service5.0
    Value4.0

    The 116,000-ton, 2,670-passenger Sapphire Princess debuted in 2004 as the fifth of nine ships i...

    Cruise Critic Member Ratings
    Newwestguy
    Sail Date Feb 2020
    Great Cruise But Cut Short
    Read More
    Bob g J
    Sail Date Jan 2020
    A very dull Sapphire
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    What’s included in My Cruise Fare?

    • Cabin
      Room with bed and private bathroom
    • Port Taxes & Fees
    • Service Gratuities
    • Most Onboard Entertainment
    • Kids Club
    • Shore Excursions
    • Wi-Fi
    • Spa Services
    • Select Dining
      Main dining room and/or buffet
    • Specialty Alternative Dining
    • Room Service
    • Butler Service
    • Basic Drinks
      Still water, coffee, and tea
    • Soft Drinks
      Soda and Juice
    • Alcohol
      Beer, wine, and spirits
    • Specialty Coffee Drinks
      Including smoothies and blended drinks
    • Specialty Fitness Classes

    ** inclusions in your cruise fare are based on Cruise Critic’s editorial expertise and not provided by the individual cruise lines. When you book with one of our cruise partners, please be sure to check their site for a full disclosure of all applicable fees. Cruise Critic does not guarantee any specific rates, prices, or amenities included in the fare. Inclusion items in the fare may change at any time and fees may apply for additional items.

  • 5 Night
    Cruise to Port Arthur

    Leaving:
    Sydney
    Visiting:
    Port Arthur, Hobart ... see more
    Cruise Line:
    Royal Caribbean International
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    Cruise Itinerary

    5 Night Cruise to Port Arthur Route (Royal Caribbean International)
    • Day 1
      Sydney (Australia)
    • Day 2
      Cruising
    • Day 3
      Port Arthur
    • Day 3
      Hobart
    • Day 4
      Hobart
    • Day 5
      Cruising
    • Day 6
      Sydney (Australia)
    Ship Details

    Serenade of the Seas - Royal Caribbean International

    Pros

    Has both an indoor and outdoor pool, as well as multiple dining venues

    Cons

    Lack of Royal Caribbean's signature outdoor attractions might disappoint some cruisers

    Bottom Line

    Good value-for-money choice for families and groups

    Reviews

    Serenade of the Seas Reviews

    Cruise Critic Editor Ratings
    Overall
    4.5/5
    Cabins4.0
    Dining4.0
    Service5.0
    Value5.0

    Serenade of the Seas is the third Radiance-class ship in Royal Caribbean's fleet. The 90,090-to...

    Cruise Critic Member Ratings
    ForeverCruisersJ&D
    Sail Date Feb 2020
    Serenade of the Seas: Outstanding Ship-Excellent Cruise
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    Marley54
    Sail Date Feb 2020
    Cloud/rain still fun
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    What’s included in My Cruise Fare?

    • Cabin
      Room with bed and private bathroom
    • Port Taxes & Fees
    • Service Gratuities
    • Most Onboard Entertainment
    • Kids Club
    • Shore Excursions
    • Wi-Fi
    • Spa Services
    • Select Dining
      Main dining room and/or buffet
    • Specialty Alternative Dining
    • Room Service
    • Butler Service
    • Basic Drinks
      Still water, coffee, and tea
    • Soft Drinks
      Soda and Juice
    • Alcohol
      Beer, wine, and spirits
    • Specialty Coffee Drinks
      Including smoothies and blended drinks
    • Specialty Fitness Classes

    ** inclusions in your cruise fare are based on Cruise Critic’s editorial expertise and not provided by the individual cruise lines. When you book with one of our cruise partners, please be sure to check their site for a full disclosure of all applicable fees. Cruise Critic does not guarantee any specific rates, prices, or amenities included in the fare. Inclusion items in the fare may change at any time and fees may apply for additional items.

  • 10 Night
    Cruise to Port Arthur

    Leaving:
    Brisbane
    Visiting:
    Burnie, Port Arthur ... see more
    Cruise Line:
    Princess Cruises
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    10 Night Cruise to Port Arthur Route (Princess Cruises)
    • Day 1
      Brisbane
    • Day 2
      Cruising
    • Day 3
      Cruising
    • Day 4
      Burnie
    • Day 5
      Cruising
    • Day 6
      Port Arthur
    • Day 6
      Hobart
    • Day 7
      Hobart
    • Day 8
      Cruising
    • Day 9
      Sydney (Australia)
    • Day 10
      Cruising
    • Day 11
      Brisbane
    Ship Details

    Sun Princess - Princess Cruises

    Pros

    Interesting itineraries, good food and welcoming crew

    Cons

    One of Australia's oldest ships, and young couples may find it a bit quiet

    Bottom Line

    The elegant midsize ship offers varied cruise options and outstanding service

    Reviews

    Sun Princess Reviews

    Cruise Critic Editor Ratings
    Overall
    3.5/5
    Cabins3.0
    Dining4.0
    Service5.0
    Value4.0

    Launched in 1995 as the world's biggest-ever cruise ship weighing in at about 77,000 tons, Sun ...

    Cruise Critic Member Ratings
    grangie
    Sail Date Jan 2020
    Disappointed
    Read More
    ErJoMo
    Sail Date Jan 2020
    Dining, relaxing & entertainment.
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    Fare Includes

    What’s included in My Cruise Fare?

    • Cabin
      Room with bed and private bathroom
    • Port Taxes & Fees
    • Service Gratuities
    • Most Onboard Entertainment
    • Kids Club
    • Shore Excursions
    • Wi-Fi
    • Spa Services
    • Select Dining
      Main dining room and/or buffet
    • Specialty Alternative Dining
    • Room Service
    • Butler Service
    • Basic Drinks
      Still water, coffee, and tea
    • Soft Drinks
      Soda and Juice
    • Alcohol
      Beer, wine, and spirits
    • Specialty Coffee Drinks
      Including smoothies and blended drinks
    • Specialty Fitness Classes

    ** inclusions in your cruise fare are based on Cruise Critic’s editorial expertise and not provided by the individual cruise lines. When you book with one of our cruise partners, please be sure to check their site for a full disclosure of all applicable fees. Cruise Critic does not guarantee any specific rates, prices, or amenities included in the fare. Inclusion items in the fare may change at any time and fees may apply for additional items.

  • 43 Night
    Cruise to Port Arthur

    Leaving:
    Auckland
    Visiting:
    Tauranga, Napier ... see more
    Cruise Line:
    Holland America Line
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    43 Night Cruise to Port Arthur Route (Holland America Line)
    • Day 1
      Auckland
    • Day 2
      Tauranga
    • Day 3
      Napier
    • Day 4
      Wellington
    • Day 5
      Picton
    • Day 6
      Christchurch
    • Day 7
      Dunedin
    • Day 8
      Fiordland National Park (Cruising)
    • Day 9
      Cruising
    • Day 10
      Cruising
    • Day 11
      Hobart
    • Day 12
      Hobart
    • Day 12
      Port Arthur
    • Day 13
      Cruising
    • Day 14
      Melbourne
    • Day 15
      Cruising
    • Day 16
      Sydney (Australia)
    • Day 17
      Cruising
    • Day 18
      Cruising
    • Day 19
      Noumea
    • Day 20
      Mare
    • Day 21
      Isle of Pines (New Caledonia)
    • Day 22
      Cruising
    • Day 23
      Lautoka
    • Day 24
      Suva
    • Day 25
      Dravuni Island
    • Day 26
      Cruising
    • Day 26
      Savusavu
    • Day 27
      Pago Pago
    • Day 28
      Cruising
    • Day 29
      Equator (Cruising)
    • Day 30
      Cruising
    • Day 31
      Cruising
    • Day 32
      Cruising
    • Day 33
      Honolulu
    • Day 34
      Honolulu
    • Day 35
      Maui
    • Day 36
      Kauai
    • Day 37
      Cruising
    • Day 38
      Cruising
    • Day 39
      Cruising
    • Day 40
      Cruising
    • Day 41
      Cruising
    • Day 42
      Victoria
    • Day 43
      Seattle
    Ship Details

    Oosterdam - Holland America Line

    Pros

    The addition of the line's signature Music Walk has reinvigorated nightlife onboard

    Cons

    Lacks attractions for active cruisers

    Bottom Line

    Good service and excellent evening entertainment combine to please

    Reviews

    Oosterdam Reviews

    Cruise Critic Editor Ratings
    Overall
    4.0/5
    Cabins4.0
    Dining4.0
    Service4.0
    Value4.0

    First thing's first: Plenty of features onboard Holland America's Oosterdam might elicit an "oo...

    Cruise Critic Member Ratings
    Gail MG
    Sail Date Feb 2020
    Panama Canal Transit Complete with Panama Buns
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    Hallzee
    Sail Date Mar 2020
    Great and Relaxing Cruise
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    Fare Includes

    What’s included in My Cruise Fare?

    • Cabin
      Room with bed and private bathroom
    • Port Taxes & Fees
    • Service Gratuities
    • Most Onboard Entertainment
    • Kids Club
    • Shore Excursions
    • Wi-Fi
    • Spa Services
    • Select Dining
      Main dining room and/or buffet
    • Specialty Alternative Dining
    • Room Service
    • Butler Service
    • Basic Drinks
      Still water, coffee, and tea
    • Soft Drinks
      Soda and Juice
    • Alcohol
      Beer, wine, and spirits
    • Specialty Coffee Drinks
      Including smoothies and blended drinks
    • Specialty Fitness Classes

    ** inclusions in your cruise fare are based on Cruise Critic’s editorial expertise and not provided by the individual cruise lines. When you book with one of our cruise partners, please be sure to check their site for a full disclosure of all applicable fees. Cruise Critic does not guarantee any specific rates, prices, or amenities included in the fare. Inclusion items in the fare may change at any time and fees may apply for additional items.

  • 5 Night
    Cruise to Port Arthur

    Leaving:
    Melbourne
    Visiting:
    Hobart, Port Arthur ... see more
    Cruise Line:
    Princess Cruises
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    Cruise Itinerary

    5 Night Cruise to Port Arthur Route (Princess Cruises)
    • Day 1
      Melbourne
    • Day 2
      Cruising
    • Day 3
      Hobart
    • Day 4
      Port Arthur
    • Day 5
      Cruising
    • Day 6
      Melbourne
    Ship Details

    Sapphire Princess - Princess Cruises

    Pros

    After 2018 refurb, ship sports a new kids' club, refreshed spa and top-notch entertainment

    Cons

    Bathrooms still in need of a refurbishment

    Bottom Line

    A good-value ship packed full of entertainment and activities

    Reviews

    Sapphire Princess Reviews

    Cruise Critic Editor Ratings
    Overall
    4.5/5
    Cabins4.0
    Dining4.0
    Service5.0
    Value4.0

    The 116,000-ton, 2,670-passenger Sapphire Princess debuted in 2004 as the fifth of nine ships i...

    Cruise Critic Member Ratings
    Over from NZ
    Sail Date Jan 2020
    South East Asia January 2019
    Read More
    t.mills
    Sail Date Jan 2020
    First time cruising - Very expensive
    Read More
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    Fare Includes

    What’s included in My Cruise Fare?

    • Cabin
      Room with bed and private bathroom
    • Port Taxes & Fees
    • Service Gratuities
    • Most Onboard Entertainment
    • Kids Club
    • Shore Excursions
    • Wi-Fi
    • Spa Services
    • Select Dining
      Main dining room and/or buffet
    • Specialty Alternative Dining
    • Room Service
    • Butler Service
    • Basic Drinks
      Still water, coffee, and tea
    • Soft Drinks
      Soda and Juice
    • Alcohol
      Beer, wine, and spirits
    • Specialty Coffee Drinks
      Including smoothies and blended drinks
    • Specialty Fitness Classes

    ** inclusions in your cruise fare are based on Cruise Critic’s editorial expertise and not provided by the individual cruise lines. When you book with one of our cruise partners, please be sure to check their site for a full disclosure of all applicable fees. Cruise Critic does not guarantee any specific rates, prices, or amenities included in the fare. Inclusion items in the fare may change at any time and fees may apply for additional items.

  • 6 Night
    Cruise to Port Arthur

    Leaving:
    Sydney
    Visiting:
    Port Arthur, Hobart ... see more
    Cruise Line:
    Princess Cruises
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    View Cruise Info
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    Cruise Itinerary

    6 Night Cruise to Port Arthur Route (Princess Cruises)
    • Day 1
      Sydney (Australia)
    • Day 2
      Cruising
    • Day 3
      Port Arthur
    • Day 3
      Hobart
    • Day 4
      Hobart
    • Day 5
      Cruising
    • Day 6
      Cruising
    • Day 7
      Sydney (Australia)
    Ship Details

    Majestic Princess - Princess Cruises

    Pros

    Wide range of venues, lots of entertainment and dining designed by Michelin-starred chefs

    Cons

    Might feel too big if you're used to smaller Australian ships

    Bottom Line

    A bigger offering of Princess Cruises' best, plus unique features not found on other ships

    Reviews

    Majestic Princess Reviews

    Cruise Critic Editor Ratings
    Overall
    4.5/5
    Cabins4.0
    Dining4.0
    Service4.5
    Value4.0

    Launched in 2017, Majestic Princess is the newest and largest Princess Cruises ship ever to sai...

    Cruise Critic Member Ratings
    Patthecruiser
    Sail Date Nov 2019
    Could not have been a nicer cruise
    Read More
    dancerjoy
    Sail Date Feb 2020
    Disappointed
    Read More
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    Fare Includes

    What’s included in My Cruise Fare?

    • Cabin
      Room with bed and private bathroom
    • Port Taxes & Fees
    • Service Gratuities
    • Most Onboard Entertainment
    • Kids Club
    • Shore Excursions
    • Wi-Fi
    • Spa Services
    • Select Dining
      Main dining room and/or buffet
    • Specialty Alternative Dining
    • Room Service
    • Butler Service
    • Basic Drinks
      Still water, coffee, and tea
    • Soft Drinks
      Soda and Juice
    • Alcohol
      Beer, wine, and spirits
    • Specialty Coffee Drinks
      Including smoothies and blended drinks
    • Specialty Fitness Classes

    ** inclusions in your cruise fare are based on Cruise Critic’s editorial expertise and not provided by the individual cruise lines. When you book with one of our cruise partners, please be sure to check their site for a full disclosure of all applicable fees. Cruise Critic does not guarantee any specific rates, prices, or amenities included in the fare. Inclusion items in the fare may change at any time and fees may apply for additional items.

  • 28 Night
    Cruise to Port Arthur

    Leaving:
    Perth
    Visiting:
    Kuri Bay, Broome ... see more
    Cruise Line:
    Princess Cruises
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    Cruise Itinerary

    28 Night Cruise to Port Arthur Route (Princess Cruises)
    • Day 1
      Perth (Fremantle)
    • Day 2
      Cruising
    • Day 3
      Cruising
    • Day 4
      Cruising
    • Day 5
      Kuri Bay
    • Day 6
      Broome
    • Day 7
      Cruising
    • Day 8
      Darwin
    • Day 9
      Cruising
    • Day 10
      Cruising
    • Day 11
      Cairns
    • Day 12
      Cruising
    • Day 13
      Alotau
    • Day 14
      Cruising
    • Day 15
      Cruising
    • Day 16
      Brisbane
    • Day 17
      Cruising
    • Day 18
      Sydney (Australia)
    • Day 19
      Cruising
    • Day 20
      Hobart
    • Day 21
      Port Arthur
    • Day 22
      Cruising
    • Day 23
      Kangaroo Island
    • Day 24
      Adelaide
    • Day 25
      Cruising
    • Day 26
      Cruising
    • Day 27
      Albany (Australia)
    • Day 28
      Margaret River
    • Day 29
      Perth (Fremantle)
    Ship Details