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Frequently Asked Questions
Where will I go on an Australia cruise?
This depends on your itinerary. Australia cruises typically depart from cities such as Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, although it’s not uncommon for these cruises to depart from other Australian cities or even from ports in Asia and along the West Coast of the United States. Ports visited will include a variety of cities throughout Australia, allowing access to wildlife parks, rainforests, the Outback and the Great Barrier Reef. Most cruises will also visit popular New Zealand cities, such as Auckland and Christchurch.
How long does it take to get there?
Traveling to Australia can be a very long trip, taking nearly an entire day for air travel. From North America, you will cross the International Date Line, causing you to lose a day in transit. Due to the added travel time, you will be required to leave your hometown for your port of departure at least two days in advance of your Australian cruise. However, we suggest that you leave three or four days before your cruise to allow time to rest and get oriented before boarding the ship. Most cruise lines offer pre-cruise hotel packages.
When is the best time to take an Australia cruise?
Australia’s peak cruise season begins in October and runs through March, although Australia cruises are almost offered year-round. Located in the southern hemisphere, Australia’s seasons are opposite of those in the northern hemisphere, so if it’s winter in the U.S., it’s summer in Australia.
Will I need a passport or visa?
Passports are required for all international visitors.
Is English spoken?
English is the native language in Australia.
What is the time difference?
Australia is divided into three different time zones, except during Daylight Saving Time when there are five. The basic three time zones are Eastern Standard Time (EST), Central Standard Time (CST) and Western Standard Time (WST). Australia’s largest city of Sydney is located in the state of New South Wales and is 19 hours ahead of Los Angeles or 16 hours ahead of New York City. In Australia, Daylight Savings Time begins the first Sunday in October and ends the first Sunday in April.
What is the local currency? Where can I exchange currency?
The official currency of Australia is the Australian dollar. Denominations include $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 bills and $.10, $.20, $.50, $1 and $2 coins. Currency exchange stations are available at most local hotels and airports, though many tourist destinations accept credit cards.
Is tipping a common practice?
Tipping is not expected in Australia, although it is customary to tip up to the nearest $10, $20 or $50 to a maximum of 10% (depending on the size of the bill) for a meal in a full service restaurant in tourist areas; bar staff never receive a tip. Some passengers will tip up to the nearest dollar for a taxi ride.
What should I wear?
Casual resort wear, including shorts and T-shirts, is the standard daytime attire for most cruises. Bring a variety of footwear, including low-heeled or rubber-soled shoes for walking on deck, sandals for beach excursions, sturdy walking shoes for guided tours and a pair of dressier shoes for formal dining. You can check your ship's dress codes for options suitable for nighttime, but most restaurants encourage slacks and nice dresses during evening meals.
What should I pack?
The climate varies considerably in Australia with cooler, windy weather in the winter (June to August) and hot, humid and very wet weather in the summer (December to February). Think about the kinds of activities you will want to try – sightseeing in Sydney, wine tasting in the Yarra Valley or a tour of the Bonorong Wildlife Park for example -- and pack accordingly. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses and swimsuits if traveling during Australia’s warmer season; protective hats, good walking shoes and windbreakers are advisable no matter when you travel. Also, remember to pack all of your medications, prescription or otherwise, in a bag you can keep with you as needed.
Is the water safe to drink?
Water is suitable to drink everywhere, although bottled water is available.
What sort of medical precautions do I need to take?
Shots aren't usually necessary for visitors from North America, but it never hurts to check with your health care provider and discuss the countries you'll be visiting.
What types of electrical outlets are used?
U.S. cruise companies use the standard 110-volt outlets. International guests will likely need converters and adapters; these same devices come in handy for U.S. citizens who plan to overnight in hotels at some point during their vacation, as much of Australia uses the 240-volt outlet.
How do I make a telephone call from Australia?
Resort hotels and public phone booths offer direct dialing for international calls. Calling cards also are available for sale in tourist-friendly markets. U.S.-based cell phones might not work everywhere.
Are hotel rooms outfitted with air conditioners?
Yes, it is rare not to find air conditioned accommodations in Australia.
What is the shopping like? What souvenirs should I buy? Can I haggle over prices?
Shoppers will find a little of everything here, from handmade leather goods to exquisite opal jewelry to authentic Australian boomerangs. You can choose souvenirs that capture the spirit of this diverse region -- pick up a bottle of wine in the Yarra Valley, for instance, or browse Aboriginal art in Darwin. Give haggling a try if you feel comfortable, but don't press your luck with a flustered shopkeeper.
How do I get around?
Australia is a tourism hot spot with plenty to see and do. While visiting the country’s capital cities, you will have no problem utilizing public transportation (trains, buses, ferries, railways and trams) to get around, as well as taxi services. Smaller cities sometimes offer bicycle or scooter rentals, and most cities and towns are pedestrian-friendly. Shore excursions purchased through your cruise line highlight top attractions and include transportation and guide.
Can I rent a car?
Rental cars are widely available throughout Australia, although the minimum rental age requirement is 21, and travelers under the age of 25 may be subject to additional fees. It is also important to note that a valid driver’s license (in English) is required, and speed limits are strictly enforced. Keep in mind that public transportation (buses, trains and ferries) is widely accessible and most towns and cities are pedestrian-friendly, making car rentals largely unnecessary in this region unless traveling beyond city limits.
What can I do there?
Australia is a vast land, offering one-of-a-kind experiences for all travelers. From cultural tours and heavenly culinary experiences to hiking and biking activities and outrageous water sports, the potential activities seem limitless. Hike the Daintree Rainforest, explore the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef or cruise Sydney Harbor for a close-up look at the grand Opera House. If you have time, you may even want to venture into the Red Centre to see Ayers Rock and learn more about the aboriginal culture.
What is the diving like?
The most unique diving spot in the world, the Great Barrier Reef is a diver’s paradise with more than 400 kinds of coral and over 1500 species of tropical fish. You will not be disappointed with this underwater attraction.
Do you have any photography tips for travelers to Australia?
There's plenty of natural beauty to capture, so be sure to bring plenty of gear. Users of "point-and-shoot" digital cameras should pack rechargeable batteries, a charger, electric adaptors and high-capacity memory cards (1 gigabyte is recommended). If you're bringing a digital video camera, don't forget the long-life batteries, charger, adaptors and converter.