Welcome to the next instalment in a series of articles from Cruise Advice in which we showcase some of the best cruise destinations around the world. Here, we will share some information about where you can cruise if joining a ship from these ports. As well, you’ll find some recommendations on how to spend a few days seeing the sights before heading to the port or after you get back.
Known as Australia’s “Garden City”, Melbourne was once the richest city in the world and now holds a grip on the crown as Australia’s most cosmopolitan city. With claims as the sporting and cultural capital of Australia, Melbourne offers all facilities and amenities expected of a global city infused with a unique bohemian charm more befitting Europe than Australia. In what seems to be a never ending run of laneways, the city harbours little gems like some of Australia’s best hole-in-the-wall bars, dining and shopping. Melbourne is a great port of call to have on any itinerary, whether for embarkation or just a port of call.
How can I get to Melbourne?
As Australia’s second largest city, Melbourne is directly connected to virtually every major town and city in Australia, New Zealand & Asia. Served by two airports, the closest to the central business district and Port Melbourne if you are embarking aboard a vessel is Tullamarine International Airport. The 24 kilometres between Tullamarine and the CBD is quickly covered by motorway in around 35-40 minutes. Convenient bus links through SkyBus provide a quick and cheap way to connect between the airport and the city’s Southern Cross station located right in the heart of the CBD,with a one way ticket setting you back just $18. However if you are more inclined to travel in a taxi, budget more around the $40-60 mark.
If you have booked flights into Melbourne’s secondary airport Avalon, you will find this is more Geelong than Melbourne (It’s actually around 55 kilometres away from Melbourne’s downtown core), so expect a longer trip. Taxis will cost roughly between $100 and $150, while the bus is a much more palatable $22.00 per person and takes around an hour.
Where can I cruise to from here?
With Melbourne generally experiencing a cold winter from around April to September, the current cruise season is centred around summer with Golden Princess, generally the first ship to arrive for Melbourne’s cruise season. Golden Princess sails a variety of itineraries from two to 15 days to the South Pacific and New Zealand, while shorter ‘taster’ cruises call upon Tasmanian and South Australian ports such as Hobart and Kangaroo Island. Princess Cruises also call into Melbourne with Sea Princess, Sun Princess & Dawn Princess when the trio make visits as part of their regular movements around the Australian continent.
Sister line P&O Cruises also calls Melbourne home with both Pacific Jewel and Pacific Eden making appearances over the summer. P&O offer similar itineraries to Princess, however it also operates an expanded range of Australian domestic cruises, including a special Christmas cruise covering ports in New South Wales and Queensland.
If you are looking to try something a little different this forthcoming summer, Melbourne will also offer a special voyage aboard Holland America Line’s MS Maasdam. The voyage that sails one way from Melbourne to Auckland is unique as the line doesn’t normally depart from the southern capital. We recently thought it was such a cool itinerary, we rated it as one of the top five new Australian itineraries for this upcoming summer.
Where is the best place to stay before my cruise?
Being a large city, Melbourne offers a variety of options for every style and price point. Luxury options are in abundance in the CBD and Southbank areas, with famous hotels such as The Langham and Park Hyatt nestled in the skyline above. More affordable options can also be found towards Southern Cross Station and Docklands.
If you are looking for something in close proximity to Station Pier (The only cruise terminal for Melbourne) look at the Hip beachside suburb of St. Kilda, a brief taxi ride away where budget rooms can be found from less than $20 a night.
What can I see and do before boarding my ship?
Melbourne offers some of the best shopping in the country with famed haunts like Chapel Street, Bourke Street Mall and the new Emporium shopping mall allowing you to have that Real Housewives of Melbourne moment you may seek. Check out the Queen Victoria Market should your visit fall over a weekend or on a Thursday or Friday. The grand dame of Australian markets is a historical site and allows for you to interact with the farmers and providores of Victoria, while sampling some of the best produce in the world.
As a major cultural capital of Australia, it’s only fitting Melbourne plays host to some of the most advanced theatres in the nation, with many shows making their debut in Melbourne before moving to other cities. Recent highlights include the reboot of The Sound of Music and Tim Minchin’s Matilda, both of which have now settled into their Melbourne homes.
Further afield, the spa country of Daylesford isn’t too far away for some pampering pre or post-cruise, while the epicurean delights of the Yarra Valley are just a hop, skip and rent-a-car away from downtown Melbourne.
What can I expect in the cruise terminal itself?
Station Pier is a large facility that can handle, on some days, up to four ships simultaneously, however the terminal itself can prove to be a little small should you encounter such a day. The terminal lacks free wi-fi which is a big turn-off in today’s ‘connected’ cruiser world, while bathroom facilities are also few and far between.
If arriving into Melbourne, keep your eyes open and look for the volunteers in the terminal and past the port gates who will be happy to point you in the right direction. While a special Myki transport card purchase point will allow you to purchase one should you wish to use Melbourne’s extensive public transport network including the city’s iconic trams.