Australian cruisers are calling for new cruise itineraries as fatigue in the market is forcing travellers to set sail overseas.

Just this week, a bid was put forward to transform NSW’s south coast hotspot of Bateman’s Bay into a cruise destination.

In a world where more ports are clamping down on cruise, Bateman’s Bay sounds at least welcoming. And it’s music to the ears of cruise experts, who say cruise passengers are desperate for something new.

Kelly Henderson, CLIA Cruise Ambassador and agent at iLoveCruising says that we need a broader range of cruise itineraries, with many Australians tired of the same old.

“Our Australian cruise market could benefit from bigger, better, brighter, and more diverse itineraries.  Our standard ones are getting old and overdone.  If you have cruised more than once in Australia, you have likely done the only offered itineraries here.

“Different itineraries and destinations could appeal to a broader range of travellers, including those who may not have previously been interested in our traditional cruise offerings.”

Australian cruisers call for change

Frequent cruiser Kellie Petersen wrote: “We definitely need new itineraries, at least more Pacific Islands. We have done Noumea six times in 18 months and are not fans of Noumea. Furthermore, leaving from Melbourne costs us nearly as much as the cruise for the family to fly there and back.”

Other cruises such as Robyn Searles can’t fly internationally for health reasons, and thus find themselves doing the same itineraries repeatedly.

“I’ve done 20 cruises and can’t fly internationally for health reasons, so keep doing the same routes. Always looking for something different. There used to be way more variety.”

Paul McLaren wrote: “Would be nice to mix things up a bit. I’d love it if the Splendor would do Port Vila, Fiji, and even places further out like Tonga. Frequent cruisers go around in circles, like the loathed port that none of us really like, Noumea.”

Lynn Jamieson said: “I wish ships would come to WA and do trips from Fremantle to Singapore, Princess and P&O used to do great itineraries that called at ports in Vietnam, as well as Bali and Lombok, but there’s been nothing much like that since Covid.”

Due to major cruise lines offering little variety in itineraries, Australians are starting to look more towards cruising overseas.

Stagnant itineraries are leading to Aussies looking elsewhere

Henderson says: “There has been a huge increase among Australians, including myself and my family seeking cruise experiences beyond the traditional itineraries offered from here in Australia. Many Australians who are frequent cruisers or looking for new experiences are exploring international cruise options for several reasons including new destinations and cultural experiences that aren’t available here.”

Could regional cruise ports be the answer?

While Henderson has seen plenty of demand for overseas cruising and a wider variety of island visits in the South Pacific, the answer could lie closer to home for Australian cruisers.

Experts say Australia needs new cruise destinations as fatigue sets in
Australia’s cruise ports

Australia has 47 cruise ports and anchorages, although the majority receive no visits from the major cruise lines. 

Of these 47 ports and anchorages, just 23 will see visits from major cruise ships during the 25/26 cruise ship. During Royal Caribbean’s 25/26 season, aside from major Australian ports like Sydney and Brisbane, only Airlie Beach, Hobart (once), and Cairns will see ships, with all other ports in New Zealand or the South Pacific. 

Carnival Cruises will visit seven different regional ports during the 25/26 season, Princess Cruises will visit 13, Celebrity Cruises will visit seven and Norwegian Cruise Line will visit three. 

Henderson thinks more visits to regional ports could reignite the passion for Australian cruisers.

“I do – I think any variations to the current itineraries will increase interest and break up the monotony of the current itineraries.  I think, given the choice and the warning that many people are about to pull in there to towns and cities with ports big enough, there are so many beautiful spots cruises could stop which will reignite the passion for cruising for many seasoned and new cruisers.

“Australia is one of the most beautiful countries in the world which has people longing to see, so let’s open the cruise ports and allow it to happen.  This will in turn benefit our country, the towns, and the locals there as well as show a ship full of people what else Australia has to offer.”

What do regional ports have to offer for Australian cruisers?

  • Western Australia is home to extraordinary destinations such as Esperance, Exmouth, and Margaret River. Princess offers cruises here that traditionally sell well. However, none of Royal Caribbean, NCL, Celebrity Cruises or Carnival Cruises have plans to cruise there. 
  • South Australia has cruise infrastructure in famous destinations such as Kangaroo Island or Port Lincoln. For the 25/26 season, Kangaroo Island has just 3 port calls scheduled from major lines and Port Lincoln just one.
  • Tasmania has a spectacular coastline with destinations such as Burnie, Coles Bay and Port Arthur. During 25/26 Port Arthur will see two major ships visit (both from Carnival), and Burnie seven major visits (all from NCL).
  • Queensland has fifteen separate cruise destinations, and just seven will see visits from major ships in 25/26.
  • NSW has many ports that are keen to see more cruise traffic. Including Batemans Bay whose local government has discussed rebuilding its cruise facilities and Wollongong, which has offered itself as an alternative port to Sydney, amidst capacity issues.

Which regional ports do major lines currently visit?

  • In 2025/26 Carnival Cruises will visit Moreton Island 12 times, Airlie Beach 13 times, Cairns eight times, Port Douglas five times, Hobart twice, and Port Arthur twice.
  • Princess Cruises leads the way currently. In 25/26 the lines will visit Eden three times, Newcastle seven times, Yorkey’s Knob three times, Townsville twice, Margaret River 10 times, Albany 10 times, Kangaroo Island once, Port Lincoln once, Broome 11 times, Exmouth 11 times and Darwin 11 times.
  • Royal Caribbean has very few visits to regional Australia. The 25/26 season has eight stops scheduled in Airlie Beach, one in Hobart, and three in Cairns.
  • Celebrity Cruises during the 25/26 season will visit Eden twice, Hobart three times, Airlie Beach five times, Kangaroo Island twice, Yorkey’s Knob five times, Port Douglas three times and Newcastle once.
  • Norwegian Cruise Lines is planning to visit Eden seven times, Burnie seven times and Kangaroo Island twice during the 25/26 season.