Perhaps Australia’s most iconic city, Sydney is in the south-east and is as vibrant as it is beautiful, teeming with life and excitement. There is such cultural diversity and so much to see and do on a cruise to Sydney that you will wish you had more time. You’ll find free tours, fabulous wide open parks, stunning botanical gardens, world-class museums and restaurants and of course, the harbour – the jewel in the city’s crown. Sydney harbour is a colourful and trendy place filled with incredible sights, both natural and manmade. As beautiful and impressive as all the pictures that you’ve no doubt seen of Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge are, you’ll still want to take a few of your own.
Raw natural beauty meets urban cool in Perth. One of the most geographically isolated cities in the world, Perth is the capital of Western Australia. Located along the Swan River, Perth is home to the Swan Bell Tower, a pointy glass spire which is fronted by copper sails. The tower holds the royal bells of London’s St Martin-in-the-Fields which were gifted by the British government in 1988. Climb to the top for panoramic views of Perth. Perth Zoo aims to educate visitors on conservation and has an Australian Bushwalk (with kangaroos, emus, koalas, dingos), a Reptile Encounter (lots of snakes!) and the Australian wetlands (with black swans, brolgas, blue-billed ducks). To access it, hop on the ferry which will take you across the Swan River from Elizabeth Quay Jetty to Mends St Jetty, then walk up the hill.
Australia’s culture capital, Melbourne boasts stunning art, a vibrant music scene and excellent food, wine and coffee. Unsurprisingly, it regularly tops ‘most liveable city’ rankings and you can find out exactly why on a cruise to Melbourne.
Melbourne has an extensive public transport network, meaning you can see as many iconic landmarks as time permits. Dart into the city centre and take in the sights at Federation Square, which represents the meeting point of stunning old and new architecture in the midst of Melbourne’s central business district. Look out for Flinder’s Street station building (listed on the Victorian Heritage register), St Paul’s Cathedral and the ultra-modern, glass-covered Deakin Edge theatre.
Attracting almost two million visitors annually, Royal Botanic Gardens is one of Melbourne’s most popular spots. The 94-acre gardens evoke a giant green lung right in the centre of the city and is home to global plantings and a range of Australian flora.
You may also have the chance to encounter the most impressive of all natural phenomena, the Great Barrier Reef. The reef is a captivating, colourful galaxy full of the most remarkable wildlife featuring over 1,500 species of fish, including clownfish, coral trout, snappers and blue tangs. The bursts of neon-coloured coral and weirdly wonderful fish will mesmerise you on your cruise to Australia.
A cruise to New Zealand is an unforgettable experience. The rugged and wonderful landscape may have been brought to the attention of the world by the big screen version of Lord of the Rings but witnessing the marvellous terrain first hand is pure pleasure. Peaks above, volcanic rumblings below and rushing waters tearing across the panorama are enough to leave you breathless.
Stretched over a volcanic field on New Zealand’s North Island is multicultural Auckland. One of only seven ‘atmospheric theatres’ remaining in the world, Civic Theatre is a mighty fine survivor from cinema’s Golden Age. The auditorium has lavish Moorish decoration and a starlit southern-hemisphere night sky in the ceiling, complete with cloud projections and shooting stars. While the foyer is an Indian indulgence with elephants and monkeys hanging from every possible area.
Delve into the history of Pacific Island and the Māori tribe at the Auckland Museum. Highlights of the museum include a 25m war canoe and an extant carved meeting house, a fascinating display on Auckland’s volcanic field, military displays and a war memorial. The imposing neoclassical temple topped with a copper and glass dome is a prominent part of the Auckland skyline.
The Sounds Milford – remote splendour on New Zealand’s rugged coastline. The most famous fjord of New Zealand, the Sounds were named after Wales’ Milford Haven by British migrant John Grono in 1812. One of the wettest inhabited places in the world, the Sounds have an annual rainfall of 6.8 metres over almost 200 days. One of the best ways to see the Sounds is to kayak - get out on the water and view this magnificent fjord from a different perspective. Alternatively, head below water on a scuba diving excursion and plunge amid black coral and 150 species of fish.
Experience true tropical remoteness on Cook Islands. Halfway between tropical Hawaii and scenic New Zealand lies the sprawling paradise of the Cook Islands. There are many lagoons dotted around Cook Islands but perhaps one of the most beautiful is Aitutaki Lagoon. Filled with fascinating marine life and circled by 15 palm-covered islets, this lagoon is a true South Pacific treasure. Close by is the wreck of cargo freighter Alexander, which ran aground in the 1930s. A great location to snorkel or scuba dive.