Year-round Australian favourite Carnival Spirit is headed to China.

Ok, so  it’s not until 2018 and only for a few months over the Australian winter. But it means that Australian cruisers who love to travel in the cold moths will have one less ship to choose from.

In wave season, you can hardly move in Sydney Harbour for the number of cruise ships jostling for position. It’s not unusual to have one at the OPT, one at White Bay and one or two moored in the harbour itself.

Come winter, the waters are quiet as many of our homeported ships head to the northern hemisphere for a few months cruising around Asia, the Mediterranean or the Caribbean.

So who is still here over winter?

First of all, forget about cruising to or from Victoria, Tasmania or South Australia. From June to September there are no port calls for Melbourne, Hobart, Burnie, Adelaide or Kangaroo Island. All ships head north to warmer waters and sunnier skies.

Carnival Spirit will still be a familiar sight on Sydney Harbour this winter, taking short cruises to Queensland or longer journeys to the sunny South Pacific.

Pacific Eden is off to Asia from late July, but her twin Pacific Aria will be cruising around Australia’s northern ports. You’ll find her in Brisbane, Cairns and Hamilton Island, with a few calls in Sydney in June.

Three other P&O ships will also be staying in Australia over winter. Pacific Dawn will be sailing around Queensland, while Pacific Pearl and Pacific Jewel will be cruising from Sydney on short sea breaks, to the South Pacific or up the Queensland coast.

Princess Cruises has three ships in Australia over the next few months – Dawn, Sea and Sun PrincessDawn Princess will be sailing mainly from Perth, making long trips around Asia or one-way trips to and from Singapore. Sun Princess will split her time between Queensland and Sydney, while Sea Princess makes a few stops all around the country as part of her world cruise.

Winter is a great time for a small ship cruise in the Top End, with cruises departing Darwin for the Kimberley with Coral Expeditions and APT. It’s the dry season so the weather should be clear and sunny, though you may find some waterfalls or rivers running a little dry.

The Royal Caribbean fleet has left our shores completely, with just one final Legend of the Seas sailing from Brisbane in June. Keep an eye out for when the big ships return around October.