Cruise into Port Phillip Bay and you’ll soon be making land in Melbourne, commonly thought of as Australia’s coolest city. It’s the capital of the state of Victoria, and home to so many trendy eateries, cafes, boutiques, and galleries you won’t know where to start.
A cruise to Melbourne offers up so many possibilities that it’s difficult to know in which direction you should head when you step off the ship. The most efficient way to see what you want to see is to have an idea of your plans before you arrive - so we have put together a guide for cruise visitors to the city. Read on to discover the attractions, experiences and shore tours that will keep you well occupied in vibrant, modern Melbourne.
- When: The season for Melbourne cruising is during the warmer months, or around October to April.
- Where: Cruise ships sailing to Melbourne tie up at Station Pier, five kilometres from the city centre. There are trams that can take you from the pier all around the city, and coastal attractions like Port Melbourne beach and the historic Princes Pier are within walking distance. Taxis and buses are also available.
- Who: Plenty of cruise lines visit or cruise from Melbourne. P&O Australia ships are a common sight, along with other big cruise lines like Princess, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Cunard, and Carnival. The Golden Princess and Pacific Aria cruise from there during the season, and smaller boutique lines like Azamara and Seabourn also call in frequently.
Must-see attractions of Melbourne
With public transport, tours, or your own two feet, you can get about in Melbourne to see the many iconic sights of the city. Head east along the coast and you’ll soon be in St Kilda, where the famous Luna Park amusement park is found. Head towards the city centre and you’ll find yourself amongst the Southbank entertainment precinct, the Royal Botanic Gardens, the National Gallery of Victoria, the Queen Victoria Market and more.
Of course, one of Melbourne’s biggest drawcards is the “laneways”, narrow alleys packed with fantastic eateries, cafes, and bars. Wander these and sample the culinary delights of this diverse city! Chinatown is not far away, offering more great urban sights and flavours.
Experience the city your way
Different cruise lovers like to explore their destinations in different ways. Melbourne has something for everyone. Here are a few suggestions to appeal to varied visitors:
- Shop and eat: If giving your credit card a workout in fabulous boutiques followed by lunch at a wonderful, hip restaurant sounds like a great way to spend your day, Melbourne is the place to do it. Head to the laneways, the shopping malls and Queen Victoria Market for a day of relaxed enjoyment.
- Fun with the family: Anyone cruising with kids will find that there’s plenty to do for all ages in Melbourne. Most little ones will love a trip to nearby Luna Park, the historic amusement park in St Kilda, and some time at the nearby beach. Another option is the SEA Life Melbourne Aquarium, which is not too far from the Royal Botanic Gardens where young and old can explore, learn, and picnic.
- Art and history: If you’d like to experience some of Melbourne’s artistic flair and learn something about the city while you’re there, head towards the CBD. The National Gallery of Victoria is a good place to start, and not far away is the Australian Centre for Contemporary Arts. Head across the Yarra and you’ll find the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia in Federation Square. On the history side of things, great spots to visit include Cook’s Cottage in Fitzroy Gardens, the Melbourne Museum in Carlton Gardens, and the Immigration Museum near the famous Flinders Street Station, a historical landmark in itself.
Embark on a shore tour in Melbourne
While the offerings of each line differ, there are some common shore tours available in Melbourne which will allow you to explore the city without regard for getting back in time or dealing with public transport schedules. A pre-organised trip means seeing the things you want to see, with added peace of mind.
Shore tours can take you just about anywhere - to the shopping hotspots, around the sights of the inner city, cruising through Melbourne on the Yarra River, and more. You can even attend the country’s biggest equestrian event if you book a specific Melbourne Cup cruise!
Should you be feeling a little more adventurous, consider excursions like a drive out to the Dandenongs to ride the historic Puffing Billy steam train, an electric bike tour, or a journey out along the Great Ocean Road to see the Twelve Apostles. Those interested in seeing some of Australia’s unique wildlife while visiting Melbourne may be able to sign up for a tour that heads to the Ballarat Wildlife Park or Phillip Island Penguin Parade.
Arriving by sea to explore Melbourne is an incredible experience and a wonderful part of many Australia cruises. If you’re looking to include Melbourne in your next adventure, take a look at our cruise deals and start planning!