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Cruises to Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island (Photo: Greg Brave/Shutterstock.com)
Kangaroo Island (Photo: Greg Brave/Shutterstock.com)

About Kangaroo Island

Australia's third-largest island, located to the south of Adelaide, is known for its landscapes and abundant wildlife, all wrapped up in a colourful history. Once the butt of local jokes as the lazy 'overseas' holiday, 'KI' is having the last laugh as a food, wine and ecological destination rapidly gaining credibility for its quality produce and slick tourism businesses. Cruise lines are lining up to get ashore in record numbers, driven by positive passenger feedback.

If you've never been to Kangaroo Island before, a shore excursion is probably the best way to experience some of what this special place has to offer, but you need to travel long distances (about 150 kilometres across) from one sight to another, so you won't be able to do it all in a day.

Cruise season is November through March and likely to be warm and sunny. Most ships arrive around 7am and are gone by 8pm, making full use of the extra summer daylight hours.

Much of the best landscapes and animal life is found in the Flinders Chase National Park, including the famous Remarkable Rocks, a cluster of granite boulders sculpted by the weather and perched on a granite dome rising steeply from the ocean and formed into a 'Salvador Dali' mass of weird and wonderful shapes.

A highlight of wildlife-watching, however, is Seal Bay, with its colony of sea lions -- the third-largest breeding colony in Australia. With a National Parks officer as a guide, groups can watch the seals from a distance of about eight metres as they bask in the sun, swim and jostle for position on the beach.

Regular cruise ships anchor off the small port village of Penneshaw and use tenders to transport visitors to the pier, and if you just want to hang locally, it's an easy 10-minute walk to the main street. There's a lovely swimming beach (water can be a bit cool) known as Hog Bay, which also has a picnic area and barbecues, or you can try out the town's gourmet seafood joints opposite the park where you'll find in-season produce such as lobster, scallops, marron, prawns, whiting, oysters and garfish.

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DAY 1: Sydney

35 Night
Cruise to Kangaroo Island

Leaving:
Sydney
Visiting:
Brisbane, Townsville ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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DAY 1: Miami

140 Night
Cruise to Kangaroo Island

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Key West, Belize City ...
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Cruise Line:
Seabourn Cruise Line
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DAY 1: Athens

71 Night
Cruise to Kangaroo Island

Leaving:
Athens
Visiting:
Crete, Suez Canal ...
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Cruise Line:
Crystal Cruises
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DAY 1: Sydney

81 Night
Cruise to Kangaroo Island

Leaving:
Sydney
Visiting:
Phillip Island, Melbourne ...
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Cruise Line:
Seabourn Cruise Line
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80 Night
Cruise to Kangaroo Island

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Key West, Belize City ...
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Cruise Line:
Seabourn Cruise Line
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7 Night
Cruise to Kangaroo Island

Leaving:
Melbourne
Visiting:
Phillip Island, Port Lincoln ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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22 Night
Cruise to Kangaroo Island

Leaving:
Adelaide
Visiting:
Kangaroo Island, Melbourne ...
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Cruise Line:
Cunard Line
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16 Night
Cruise to Kangaroo Island

Leaving:
Perth
Visiting:
Albany, Esperance ...
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Cruise Line:
Azamara
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16 Night
Cruise to Kangaroo Island

Leaving:
Adelaide
Visiting:
Kangaroo Island, Melbourne ...
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Cruise Line:
Cunard Line
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35 Night
Cruise to Kangaroo Island

Leaving:
Sydney
Visiting:
Brisbane, Mooloolaba ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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Cruise Critic Favorite

15 Night
Cruise to Kangaroo Island

Leaving:
Perth
Visiting:
Bunbury, Adelaide ...
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Cruise Line:
Crystal Cruises
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21 Night
Cruise to Kangaroo Island

Leaving:
Bali
Visiting:
Exmouth, Geraldton ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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5 Night
Cruise to Kangaroo Island

Leaving:
Melbourne
Visiting:
Phillip Island, Port Lincoln ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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4 Night
Cruise to Kangaroo Island

Leaving:
Adelaide
Visiting:
Kangaroo Island, Port Lincoln ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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5 Night
Cruise to Kangaroo Island

Leaving:
Melbourne
Visiting:
Adelaide, Kangaroo Island ...
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Cruise Line:
Cunard Line
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12 Night
Cruise to Kangaroo Island

Leaving:
Adelaide
Visiting:
Kangaroo Island, Burnie ...
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Cruise Line:
Cunard Line
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18 Night
Cruise to Kangaroo Island

Leaving:
Melbourne
Visiting:
Fiorldand, Dunedin ...
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Cruise Line:
Cunard Line
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21 Night
Cruise to Kangaroo Island

Leaving:
Sydney
Visiting:
Nelson, Wellington ...
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Cruise Line:
Silversea Cruises
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11 Night
Cruise to Kangaroo Island

Leaving:
Adelaide
Visiting:
Kangaroo Island, Melbourne ...
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Cruise Line:
Cunard Line
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4 Night
Cruise to Kangaroo Island

Leaving:
Adelaide
Visiting:
Kangaroo Island, Burnie ...
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Cruise Line:
Cunard Line
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22 Night
Cruise to Kangaroo Island

Leaving:
Sydney
Visiting:
Melbourne, Adelaide ...
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Cruise Line:
Cunard Line
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20 Night
Cruise to Kangaroo Island

Leaving:
Melbourne
Visiting:
Adelaide, Kangaroo Island ...
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Cruise Line:
Cunard Line
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18 Night
Cruise to Kangaroo Island

Leaving:
Adelaide
Visiting:
Kangaroo Island, Burnie ...
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Cruise Line:
Cunard Line
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14 Night
Cruise to Kangaroo Island

Leaving:
Perth
Visiting:
Busselton, Albany ...
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Cruise Line:
Azamara
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5 Night
Cruise to Kangaroo Island

Leaving:
Adelaide
Visiting:
Kangaroo Island, Port Lincoln ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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Why go to Kangaroo Island?

Pros:

Kangaroo Island is home to abundant wildlife and boasts stunning natural landscapes

Cons:

It takes a long time to travel from one sight to the next, so an organized excursion is usually the way to go

Bottom Line:

This island is an intensely beautiful destination, but don't expect to see it all in one day

Kangaroo Island Cruise Port Facilities?

Your cruise ship will anchor offshore and deliver you via tender to a jetty at the recently upgraded SeaLink ferry terminal, used by the local ferry service to the mainland. More than likely, you will be met by a delegation of helpers and volunteer guides with pamphlets and information for you. Here's an opportunity to buy a last-minute shore excursion in case all were sold out on the ship. You may even save a dollar. There are washrooms at the terminal and your pre-booked shore excursion transport will be waiting here, too.

The small hamlet of Penneshaw (pop. 300) is a delightful location with a large grassy foreshore park ideal for just relaxing with a seafood snack from one of the cafes, such as Fish, while you enjoy the view. It's easy to stroll around the town and take in the main attractions like the pub, information centre and folk museum. The local community will often set up a fairground-style display at the sports field with stalls of regional produce, arts and handicrafts.

Should you need, there is a chemist/drugstore, small supermarket, ATM, post office and several cafes should your coffee craving kick in. Wi-Fi is most reliably obtained from the cafes, the visitor centre or via the mobile phone network.

Good to Know?

Don't be all taken aback if you get 'the finger' from another driver on the roads of KI. It's actually a popular local greeting. Just gently lift your fore or middle finger off the steering wheel as the oncoming vehicle approaches. You can accentuate the gesture with a short nod making a quaint and endearing acknowledgement of your fellow road user. Not sure it will work back in the big smoke.

Getting Around?

On Foot: If you're not on a booked shore excursion, then you are likely strolling the streets of Penneshaw. Most everything is just a couple minutes one way or the other, but the Tourist Information Centre and Maritime Museum is a little bit further out, past the Christmas Cove marina.

By Shuttle Bus: On cruise days, the local school buses are commandeered for shuttling visitors between the terminal and the visitor centre. The free service runs at regular intervals throughout the day.

By Car: with some pre-planning, you may be able to hire a car and self-drive for a few hours. Both Hertz and Budget have desks in Penneshaw serving visitors arriving by ferry.

Note: there are no longer any bicycles for hire, and there is no taxi or Uber service

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

While most stores will happily accept credit cards and EFTPOS transactions, Australian dollars in cash can be obtained from either of the ATMs in the Penneshaw Hotel or IGA Supermarket. The big town, Kingscote, is an hour by road and your tour (if you're on one) may not stop there.

Language?

English is the official language all over Australia, but sometimes visitors from overseas will have trouble understanding the thick drawl sometimes invoked by truckies, tradies and footy fans. It has been claimed (usually by South Australians themselves) that theirs is the clearest and most 'correct' English spoken anywhere in the country and a few little nuances will give it away. Like castle said 'CAR-sell' (not CASS-sell). And 'croweaters' (the slang name for South Australians) will go swimming in 'bathers', not 'togs', 'swimmers' or 'cossies' as they do in the other states. South Australian 'schooners' (the most common beer glass) are actually equivalent to Eastern states' 'middies', so don't look shocked if your draught lager has shrunk. If you want the big one, ask for a 'pint'.

Where You're Docked?

The newly built tender jetty at the Penneshaw Ferry Terminal is where you will get off the transfer from your ship. Straight away you will see eager ground handlers waiting to whisk you away on pre-booked shore tours. But there's even a second chance in case you missed out as there's a desk where local community operators will also offer supplementary tours and excursions, sometimes at substantial saving. There are washrooms here, too. The town centre of little Penneshaw is just a few hundred metres up the gentle slope.


Kangaroo Island Cruise Reviews

Queen Elizabeth
Nola Cordell
Sail Date: Feb 2019
Unfortunately, our excursion to Kangaroo Island was cancelled due to poor weather. I have given it five stars as I am sure the excursion planned would have deserved this rating.... Read More
Golden Princess
BrookeAA
Sail Date: Jan 2019
Unless you book a tour or go swimming there is nothing to do on Kangaroo Island when coming via a cruise ship.... Read More
Golden Princess
Ganglaand Tours
Sail Date: Jan 2019
Been to Kangaroo Island before and had some time at Pennashore this cruise and the locals set up markets and plenty of support for passenger, Kingscote the main town on the island is one hour away so with limited... Read More
lindyloo59
Sail Date: Dec 2018
We hired a car and drove down to Flinders Chase National Park to visit Admirals Arch and saw the lovely Fur Seals then on to Remarkable Rocks. We even saw a Koala in the Car Park of the Visitors Centre It was a... Read More
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