The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most incredible natural wonders in the world. Stretching for an impressive 1,400 miles, it is the longest and largest reef in the world. Adding to its allure is a shocking array of bright colors, exotic sealife, and close proximity to ethereal beaches and thriving coastal cities.
When you go on one of our Great Barrier Reef cruises, you’ll sail in comfort to one of the gateway ports to the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef. Once there you have several ways to experience the reef and many sites to marvel at even beyond the reef.
The reef itself is of course going to be the highlight for those sailing on a cruise to the Great Barrier Reef, but the region has so much more to offer.
This charming seaside village is a destination unto itself, even getting daytrippers from Cairns. Port Douglas is home to the gorgeous Four Mile Beach, which has soft sand framed by lush tropical foliage on one side and the shimmering teal ocean on the other.
Experiencing the Great Barrier Reef isn’t just about seeing colorful coral and schools of fish. You’ll also find tiny isles and islands located along the reef, many of them with dreamy white sand beaches. The Whitsunday Islands are especially popular, particularly the swirling sands of Whitehaven Beach.
When you’re on a Great Barrier Reef cruise, you’re also just a short drive away from Daintree Rainforest while in the ports of Cairns or Port Douglas. Spending your time in port experiencing both the wonders of the reef and the jungle is an astounding way to see firsthand how important they are to the world’s ecosystem.
The ports of call on our Australia cruise itineraries that make it possible to visit the Great Barrier Reef are Cairns, Port Douglas, Brisbane, Newcastle and Airlie Beach. All of the ports offer a different vibe and different Great Barrier Reef shore excursions, but in each you’ll find north Queensland’s warm climate, tropical vegetation, and incredible ocean views.
Choose an itinerary that has an overnight port of call in Cairns and you can spend a night away from the ship having an adventure on the Great Barrier Reef itself. You’ll camp on a pontoon under the stars right next to a colorful reef teeming with fish and other sea life.
Fitzroy Island is one of the most famous islands along the Great Barrier Reef due to its unspoiled and protected nature, white sand beach, and clear waters. On a shore excursion boat ride there, you’ll get the chance to snorkel along the reef as well as do some paddleboarding and enjoy a picnic lunch.
Getting into the water to snorkel or scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef is a quintessential way to discover the wonders of the reef, but to truly understand its awe-inspiring breadth and beauty, a helicopter tour over the reef will do just that and is an unforgettable experience.
If you’ve had your fill of ocean adventures, a great shore excursion to do on a Great Barrier Reef cruise that doesn’t include the reef is doing an eco-cruise down the river flowing through the lush Daintree rainforest that is located a short distance inland from the Great Barrier Reef.
U.S. citizens need more than just a passport to visit Australia. Whether you’re first arriving to Australia by cruise or air, you’ll need an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) issued before arriving in the country or before boarding your cruise to Australia (whichever comes first). The Electronic Travel Authority is an easy to apply for travel visa, which can be done online, but it is important to know that it is your responsibility to have it taken care of before your vacation and it will need to be issued before you arrive to your embarkation terminal on the first day of your cruise.
When interacting with the Great Barrier Reef while on a scuba or snorkel outing or other shore excursion, it is important to adopt the philosophies of “leave no trace” and “look, don’t touch.” The ecosystem of the reef is fragile and the coral can be easily killed if it is broken or trampled on. Likewise, the animals who call it home should be observed peacefully and not be touched. And nothing should be taken from the reef back with you to land.