The Tour Specialists Blog


Cairns Cruise Ship Passenger Shore Tour Options

Sophie Tabouel on May 21st, 2021

Photo courtesy of Tourism Tropical North Queensland

No matter how long cruise ships stay in Cairns, the biggest problem most visitors encounter is figuring out how to fit all of the amazing local tours and attractions on their holiday ‘to do’ list into their time here.

I am a long-term local Cairns gal who likes to get out and about, and yet even I still have so much I want to see and do.

When you are arriving into Tropical North Queensland on a cruise ship and have even less time than most holidaymakers for shore excursions, getting the most out of your limited time in Cairns can seem a little more challenging.

For the full list of Cairns Cruise ship shore excursion have a look at the list.

That’s when having a clear idea of what you want to do, and booking in advance to avoid disappointment, is key to maximising your time ashore.

Even more important is knowing your docking, disembarkation and cruise ship departure times.

After all, missing the start of your shore excursion tour or, even worse, the departure of your cruise ship, will certainly take the shine off your cruising holiday memories.

Photo courtesy of Tourism & Events Queensland – Cairns Lagoon

You will also need to know which port your cruise ship will be mooring, at what time and the time you will be permitted to disembark.

If your cruise ship is disembarking at the Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal you will have immediate access to the city on foot but, if your cruise ship is mooring at Yorkeys Knob and you will be transferred ashore by tender, you will need to make the 20 minute journey into the city from there or we can arrange for you to be collected by the tour operators of the shore excursion you have booked with us.

Taxis can also will collect passengers from the Yorkey’s Knob Boat Marina and many cruise ships offer a shuttle service to their passengers, usually at an additional fee, but this may also require pre-booking.  

Logistics aside, cruise ship passengers can still take advantage of much of what the area has to offer. Cairns is definitely pedestrian friendly so, once you are in the city centre, you will have all of the shopping and dining options within walking distance.

A stroll along the Cairns Esplanade, a visit to the Cairns Aquarium, a koala cuddle at the Cairns Zoom & Wildlife dome on top of the casino and even a swim in the beautiful lagoon pool are all great ways to enjoy Cairns shore tours.

Photo courtesy of Tourism Tropical North Queensland

But there really is so much more to see…

If your cruise ship is staying in port for two nights then you have many more exciting cruise ship shore tours to choose from.

These include a full day snorkelling or diving trip to the Great Barrier Reef a tour to Cape Tribulation and the Daintree Rainforest or a ride on the famous Skyrail and historic Kuranda Scenic Train to visit Kuranda village. These tours offer transfers from Cairns hotels and, depending on the tour, some operators will also pick up from the Yorkeys Knob jetty or nearby Smithfield, a 10 minute taxi ride away.

Photo courtesy of Kuranda Scenic Railway

As long as you have a least one night in Cairns, jumping on a half day afternoon city sights tour will show you the city highlights as well as take you further afield to locations including the Cairns Botanic Gardens, Surprise Creek Falls in the Barron Gorge National Park and Palm Cove beach, with a return time of approximately 6pm.

A morning or afternoon 4WD rainforest and waterfall tour is another great option to escape the crowds and visit waterfalls, lookouts, Lake Morris and the stunning world heritage rainforest surrounding Cairns.

Photo courtesy of Tourism Tropical North Queensland

Those with only one day in Cairns can do a half day trip to Green Island or Kuranda as these offer later departures and earlier returns, which can suit many cruise ship itineraries. Other activities for those on a tight time schedule include scenic flights in a helicopter or plane, a 2 hour harbour cruise, ATV or Segway tours, horse riding, bungy jumping, half day white water rafting or a visit to a wildlife park.

Photo courtesy of Great Adventures

These options can be added to the itineraries of those passengers on cruise ships that are staying longer than one day as well.

Again, booking in advance will ensure a place on the tour that best matches your cruise ship timings.

When you are arriving in Cairns on a cruise ship and only staying a short amount of time, there may seem to be an endless choice of unforgettable experiences on offer, including a vibrant city, world heritage rainforest, wildlife, waterfalls and of course the breathtaking beauty of the Great Barrier Reef.

Photo courtesy of Tourism Tropical North Queensland

However, once you know your disembarkation location and cruise ship itinerary, with some careful planning there is no reason why you can’t make the most of your visit to this wonderful area.

We have a selection of shore excursions for you to choose from.

Author: The Tour Specialists  – Destination Specialists

Sophie Tabouel

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