Great Barrier Reef Cruises, The Ultimate 7 Day Cruise Ship tours from Cairns
From the moment your plane finally begins its descent down towards the world famous Great Barrier Reef your heart begins to beat faster with the excitement of seeing the beauty of the coral reef and brilliant blue waters below you, along with the wild and brilliant tall undulating green mountains that surround the city of Cairns and all of Tropical North Queensland Australia.
Some folks say this is the wild frontier of Australia but we locals just call it paradise!
As you alight from your plane, you take in a deep breath of fresh tropical air and know immediately you are in a very special place.
On your first night or first few nights in Cairns we can accommodate you in a hotel that is city central to all the tours and attractions so that you may see all the things to do in the region, and relax a little before boarding your Great Barrier Reef cruise ship tour at the Cairns Cruise Liner terminal.
Choose Your Great Barrier Reef Cruise Ship Expedition
We offer our guests a 7 night Great Barrier Reef Cruise along the coastline of Australia, its remote islands and the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef.
On board each one of these bespoke cruises there is only a maximum off 72 guests making it very boutique and personalised. At night around the boats lounge bars, it is like a mini club with all of the guests getting to know each other, enjoying the socialisation in the relaxed atmosphere.
They spend time with the crew who casually tell them about the exciting things they will experience on our tailor made cruise ship itineraries in the days ahead.
Cairns Cruise Ship Itinerary 7 Nights - Cairns > Cooktown > Cairns
DAY 1: CAIRNS - COOKTOWN
Board at the Cairns Cruise Ship Terminal at 4:00pm, and cruise Trinity Bay. Settle into your stateroom and become acquainted with the facilities onboard before we join with the other cruise ship guests for welcome drinks with the Captain and your crew
DAY 2: COOKTOWN
Discover historic Cooktown, with buildings dating back to the 1870s. Visit the botanic gardens and the James Cook Museum to see original artefacts from the HMB Endeavour. Learn the history of the Guugu Yimithirr Aboriginal people, the first people of this ancient country.
Discover recent European history with a visit to the site where Lt. James Cook beached HMB Endeavour to effect repairs in 1770. Wander through the rare flora collection at the Botanic Gardens and visit James Cook Museum, where the story of Cook’s landing is told from an Aboriginal perspective and where artefacts are on display.
Later, we cruise towards Lizard Island, arriving in time for sunset drinks at Turtle Beach. See giant trevally and tawny nurse sharks up close during an after dinner fish feed off the back deck.
DAY 3: LIZARD ISLAND
This is one of the big highlights of our 7 day Great Barrier Reef cruise. Our guests spend a whole day at the world famous Lizard Island where there is time to hike to the summit of Cook’s Look and enjoy the same view Lt. James Cook did when searching for safe passage through the maze of coral reefs. Snorkel over giant clam gardens from the beach at Watson’s Bay, relax on the white-sand beach beneath shady she oak trees and learn about the tragic story surrounding Mary Watson.
There may be an opportunity to visit Lizard Island Research Station, operated by the Australian Museum to facilitate coral reef research and education on the Great Barrier Reef.
Discover Nathan Reef on a guided snorkel tour with expert interpretation by our on board marine biologist. This reef is teeming with abundant fish life, including clownfish and Maori Wrasse.
DAY 4: OSPREY REEF
Osprey Reef is the summit of an undersea 2,000m mountain located beyond the continental shelf with no landmass visible. Enjoy amazing underwater visibility here, and observe magnificent corals, plummeting drop-offs and many fish in the crystalline waters. Osprey Reef is a highly prized tropical dive location amongst scuba divers, called an ‘oasis for living creatures of all kinds’ by Sir David Attenborough.
Osprey Reef is a true expedition-style destination and our visit is subject to appropriate weather conditions.
DAY 5. RIBBON REEF #9 & HOPE ISLAND
The Ribbon Reefs are a narrow line of outer coral reefs on the edge of the continental shelf and are renowned for their prolific marine life and extensive coral species. Enjoy the rare opportunity to snorkel and dive on the Ribbon Reefs which sit on the edge of the continental shelf.
Due to their location far offshore from the Australian coast, the Ribbon Reefs offer excellent diving and snorkelling opportunities, with Ribbon Reef #9 a favourite for its wide variety of marine life and pinnacles cloaked in coral. Join a guided snorkel tour led by our expert Expedition Team and witness this extraordinary ecosystem up close. These northern reefs are renowned for spotting iconic marine species such as potato cod, wrasse, sharks and turtles.
In the late afternoon we stretch our legs on remote Hope Island before joining fellow explorers and crew for sunset drinks on the beach as the sun sinks below the horizon.
DAY 6. DAINTREE RIVER & RIBBON REEF #3
Explore the 127km-long Daintree River which cuts through the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest, the world’s oldest tropical rainforest. With an expert guide onboard we look for the region’s famed wildlife such as saltwater crocodiles, rare and endangered cassowaries and the prolific bird species that inhabit the forest and mangrove-lined river banks.
We step ashore at a Daintree wilderness centre on the banks of the river and walk on forest trails overhung with lush vegetation. Immersed in the rainforest, we learn more about the diverse Wet Tropics ecosystem which contains the largest habitat of flora and fauna in the world.
Cruising southwards along the Ribbon Reefs, there are more spectacular diving and snorkelling opportunities at Ribbon Reef #3 where we look for iconic species as well as the vibrantly coloured coral gardens the Ribbon Reefs are renowned for.
DAY 7. FITZROY ISLAND & SUDBURY CAY
We visit a beautiful island on the Great Barrier Reef, Fitzroy Island where guests may enjoy a walk through the Secret Garden rainforest or for the more adventurous, a hike to the de-commissioned lighthouse that rewards hikers with panoramic views across the magnificent Great Barrier Reef, islands and mainland mountain ranges.
Snorkel over the fringing reef, relax on the beach and lend a hand to the volunteers as we learn about the turtles at the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, where sick and injured turtles are cared for before being returned to the wild.
Late in the afternoon, we arrive at Sudbury Cay, a tiny sand cay that barely rises above the Coral Sea. Far removed from the bustle of civilisation, we slip off our shoes and feel the sand between our toes as the tropical waters of the Coral Sea lap gently against the shoreline. Surrounded by glistening sea and bathed in the glow of twilight, we enjoy sundowner drinks and the company of like-minded explorers as we relax and watch the sun gently sink below the horizon, enjoying the Captain’s Farewell Drinks at sunset on our own private sand island.
DAY 8. ARRIVE CAIRNS
Our Great Barrier Reef adventure concludes in Cairns this morning as we bid farewell to new-found friends, the Master and crew, disembarking at 8:00am.
Great Barrier Reef Cruise Ship Itinerary 7 Nights
The above itinerary is indicative only - your Great Barrier Reef Cruise ship expedition team may alter your itinerary to make the most of weather conditions at the time of sailing.
Cairns Cruise Ship Expedition Highlights:
Sunset canapes and sparkling wine on the remote beaches of Lizard Island or Sudbury Cay.
Hike up Cook’s Look on Lizard Island and take in the bird’s-eye view over the northern reef.
Snorkelling and diving over the coral gardens of the remote outer Ribbon Reefs
Visit stunning Fitzroy Island and the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre.
Make a connection with indigenous culture and Australian heritage at historic Cooktown
Learn about the history, culture, and wildlife of the region.
Get up a close up view of marine wildlife with our resident Marine Biologist.
Cruise Ship Tender Vessels & Excursions:
Guided tours with our marine biologists who explain and interpret what you see in the waters below and around the islands and rainforests.
With a strong focus on visiting places not often touched by tourists, our excursions are designed to promote understanding and appreciation of the local environment.
Our small cruise ship group size ensures that our excursions are comfortable and enjoyable, but also have minimal impact on the areas that we visit.
Most activities are suitable for all fitness levels; when a higher than normal level of fitness is required for an excursion, your Expedition Leader will advise you accordingly.
Snorkelling & Scuba Diving the Great Barrier Reef
The opportunity to snorkel and scuba dive over spectacular coral gardens and come face to face with brightly coloured tropical fish is a highlight of our Great Barrier Reef cruises.
You will snorkel over magical fringing reefs and discover the rarely visited Ribbon Reefs. Beginners can join guided snorkelling tours or introductory and resort-style dives, while more experienced divers are able to participate in more challenging dives.
Our qualified Dive Instructor accompanies you every step of the way. Snorkelling equipment will be assigned to each guest at the commencement of the cruise, and the introductory scuba skills session is complimentary.
***Scuba diving is subject to medical clearance***
Cairns Cruise Ship Inclusions:
Daily guided excursions zodiac tender vessels, and kayaks where conditions allow
Expert Expedition Team, daily Marine Biology lectures and briefings
Snorkelling & scuba equipment
All meals prepared by on-board chef. Small batch local dining.
24 hour coffee and tea service
Captain's Welcome and Farewell Events, and Open Bridge Access with the Captain
Comprehensive and fully guided sightseeing in each destination
All entrance fees to National Parks and Ports
See more cruises on the Great Barrier Reef
Great Barrier Reef Cruises | Small Luxury Cruise Ship Tour | 7 Nights
- Location: Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal
This is Cairns highly awarded bespoke Cruise ship tours that explore the Great Barrier Reef expedition style on luxury 7 day cruises. Departing the Cairns Cruise Liner terminal weekly guests are taken to remote places on the Great Barrier Reef with Marine Biologists. Dive, snorkel, explore. Book your cabin berth early as these Great Barrier Reef cruises are very popular