31 December 2018
Read Time: 4.5 mins
Just like their far-flung counterparts, close-to-home cruises make for a memorable – and relaxing – getaway no matter what your travel style or budget.
From the onboard experiences to the destinations – tropical waters, pristine fiordlands and tantalising ports brimming with exotic cultural experiences – you’ll be amazed that you’re only just a short day or two sail away from home.
Many destinations, one trip – being a tourist in your own backyard has never looked so good. Here are six close-to-home cruises to do in 2019.
Seeing New Zealand by land is awe-inspiring enough but the Land of the Long White Cloud seriously outdoes itself when it comes to epic cruising vistas and ports. Explore Art Deco-clad cities like Napier (and the distinctly Gallic, Akaroa) one day then make your way to untouched natural landscapes the next. Wilderness abounds in scenic cruising spots like Milford, Dusky and Doubtful Sounds – Fiordland National Park’s crown-jewels; the Bay of Islands, an ancient flooded valley that’s home to giant Kauri trees, is an outdoor adventure-lover’s dream; or experience the ancient majesty of Maori culture in Picton, Tauranga and Auckland.
The South Pacific
Just three nights cruise from Australia’s eastern seaboard, the collection of islands and atolls that makes up the South Pacific is purpose-built for cruising. Languid waters lap against palm-fringed shores and the breeze feels like a gentle caress from the gods. Whether you’re an experience-hunter or a relaxation junkie, destinations like Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Norfolk Island, Samoa, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia and Tahiti deliver tropical vibes all year round. Take your pick of activities: dive into a turquoise-tinted underwater kaleidoscope before catching some rays on the brilliantly white-sand beaches; hike through lush, untamed jungle; or head into one of the bustling towns to experience life like a local. Food is another major drawcard of the South Pacific, and while regional cuisine varies, mainstays like fresh seafood and tropical fruit and veg feature throughout. The rich cultural heritage of the South Pacific is easy to find, too; evidence of a colonial past intermingles with modern Polynesian, Micronesian and Melanesian society on any island stop you cruise to. Highlights include kava ceremonies in Fiji, experiencing village life on Lifou and Mystery Island or a traditional dance and black magic performance in Vila, Vanuatu.
Sunburnt country and sweeping plains may be Australia’s default currency but our girt by sea golden shores are worth exploring from the ocean. Boasting some of the best beaches, wild coastlines and culturally-diverse cities in the world a cruise around Australia allows for a plethora of unique experiences and shore experiences. Discover untamed landscapes like Kangaroo Island or explore the burgeoning cultural scene in Geraldton on WAs Coral Coast. Bustling and culturally diverse, port cities like Melbourne and Sydney are brimming with metropolitan fun but if you are more nature-lover than city-slicker the options are equally captivating from the old-growth forests of the Apple Isle (Tasmania) to the prehistoric rainforests of Queensland.
Exotic and multi-faceted, a cruise through Asia is a no-brainer for foodies and culture vultures alike. For an intriguing mash up of ancient mysticism and neon-lit hyper-futurism – and one of the world’s most popular cuisines – pick an itinerary that includes The Land of the Rising Sun – Japan. It’s a make your own adventure kind of place; slow and zen activities like learning the time-honoured traditions of a tea and kimono ceremony sit comfortably side-by-side with fixtures of modern Japan – karaoke in Shinjuku, technicolor robot cabarets and the eye-popping fashion of Harajuku.
For another taste of Asia’s variety, Malaysia beckons with its spice and colour. Sitting at the intersection of trade and spice routes this country is a study in diversity. In Kuala Lumpur, historic architecture sits nestled in amongst glittering skyscrapers and daily life swirls colourfully through it all. Explore UNESCO-heritage listed George Town on the island of Penang, a popular cruise port, for an insight into the historical diversity of Malaysia. Famed for its melting pot of cuisines, slurp on a fragrant laksa or sink your teeth into a delicious bite from one of the many street-food vendors dotted throughout the island.