Whether it’s Lord of the Rings landscapes, marine fauna-filled waters, balmy weather or the chance to meet a koala bear, an Australia and New Zealand cruise offers incredible adventure and variety.

Australia and New Zealand may both be washed by the same warm Pacific waters but all resemblance ends there – and that’s just what makes a cruise to these two island nations so exciting.

With its combination of beach and bush, Australia delivers a surprising blend of off-the-beaten track adventures and sophisticated city experiences. “Highlights are Melbourne, a hip and creative city, while the port of Eden offers bushwalks, oysters and kangaroos, and in Burnie, Tasmania, guests are hunting for truffles, sampling local whisky and filling up on cheese,” says senior vice-president and MD for EMEA at Oceania Cruises Bernard Carter.

In its 2018 travel trend report, ABTA describes New Zealand as “an alluring mix of Polynesia and Europe, with incredibly diverse scenery, stunning coastlines, delicious wine and food, and intensely proud but welcoming inhabitants”.

Sales and marketing director for Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Justin Stanton agrees, adding: “A survey of 1,500 high-end UK travellers at the Condé Nast Traveller luxury travel fair saw New Zealand top the list of Brits’ dream destinations for the coming year. This coincides with 2019 marking the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook’s arrival there.”

Popular ports of call in New Zealand, with its two islands separated by the Cook Strait, include the North Island’s capital, Wellington, famed for its glorious waterfront and the South Island’s Dunedin, renowned for its stunning Victorian architecture.

Most of the major lines that have sailings out of Australia, including Holland America, Cunard and Seabourn, will have New Zealand on itineraries for 2019 and 2020, and ships generally leave from Sydney or Auckland in the summer months. October to April are the busiest months for Southern Hemisphere cruises, although Australian cruise lines operate throughout the year: Australia has one of the driest climates on earth, whereas New Zealand is famed for its varied weather, and passengers should be advised to pack a raincoat.

Milford Sound, cruise, New Zealand,
Glorious scenery in Milford Sound.


“Australia and New Zealand allow guests to experience awe-inspiring landscapes filled with incredible and unique wildlife. Complete with towering mountains and stunning, verdant valleys, it’s the perfect winter destination for UK passengers,” says Cunard sales director Gary Anslow.

The fact that Australia and New Zealand are so remote for British passengers is definitely part of their charm, but distance can also be a drawback. “For many passengers a trip down under is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and planning a trip like this can be overwhelming,” says Viking’s head of sales Neil Barclay.

“One of the advantages of seeing each destination on a cruise is that experienced operators take all of the stress, planning and organisation out of their hands so guests can sit back, relax, unpack just once and still see all of the major highlights of these two incredible countries,” he notes.

Passengers who would enjoy immersive cruising, or who are keen to cruise to less accessible regions, such as remote Macquarie Island, should travel with Silversea, Ponant, Seabourn, Viking and similar cruise lines that use smaller vessels.

“Guests on our Australia and New Zealand itinerary will be able to experience Viking Orion, our newest ocean ship, which holds a maximum of 930 guests. Orion is the first ship in the fleet to feature a Viking resident astronomer who offers lectures and stargazing sessions on board,” says Barclay.

Passengers should also understand that many major sites, including parts of the Outback and The Great Barrier Reef, are not accessible from larger cruise ships. “Guests should make the most of their journey by adding on pre- or post- tours,” advises Oceania’s Carter.

Selling tips

  • Add attractions: “Agents should ‘upsell’ these longer cruises – with the opportunity to promote a land-based pre- or post-cruise extension to the holiday – thereby adding extra value to the booking and enhancing their commission,” says Fred Olsen’s Justin Stanton.
  • Book early: “We’re anticipating a big increase in UK visitors,” notes vice-president for UK and Europe at Princess Cruises, Tony Roberts. “Our advice for agents with passengers looking to travel in 2019 would be to book early, especially if they plan to holiday at peak period with families.”
  • Appeal to families: despite the distance, many cruises down under are very family friendly – kids will love the chance to spot whales or cuddle a koala.
  • Sell the thrill: don’t forget that this is a one-off cruise for most passengers, so make sure they get the chance to visit all the places they’ve put on their wish list.
  • Know your client: due to the exotic, remote nature of these destinations, the best way to view the Australian landscape is from the water. “Travel advisors know their clients best, where they have been and where they should go. Australia and New Zealand offer so many rich opportunities,” says director of global PR & strategic initiatives at Seabourn, Brian Badura.

Example itineraries

Australia on all fronts: Fred Olsen’s 28-night Iconic Australia with Sydney New Year tour leaves London Gatwick on 11 December 2019, calling at Bali, Broome, Fremantle, Albany, Kangaroo Island, Melbourne, Hobart, Sydney, Brisbane, Townsville and Cairns. Prices from £5,199pp, including flights. 

Maoris and magical cities: Viking’s action-packed 15-day Australia and New Zealand cruise, plus a six-night Best of Australia land tour leaves Auckland on 6 March 2020, calling at Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hobart, Melbourne and finishes up in Sydney. Prices from £9,899pp.

Auckland to the outback: Oceania’s exciting 14-day Outrageous Outback regatta cruise leaves Sydney on 6 January 2020 and calls at Eden, Melbourne, Burnie, Dunedin, Akaroa, Wellington, Napier, Gisbourne, Rotorua, ending up in Auckland. Prices from £7,919pp, including flights.