Queensland: 2018’s hottest cruise destination

If your thoughts are turning to Queensland, you’re not alone. The Sunshine State is one of 2018’s must-see destinations for cruising with Carnival. From the cosmopolitan capital Brisbane and north to the Whitsunday Islands, Cairns and Port Douglas, it’s the state that has something for everyone. But the undisputed jewel in the crown has to be the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.

Running for 2300 kilometres, the vastness of the Great Barrier Reef means you’ll never get bored. Tip yourself into the reef’s blue waters and you’ll feel like you’re in a beautiful dream. Fish dart in shimmering green and yellow, Nemos lurk beneath the coral and a turtle might drift by, decorated with trailing seaweed. If you’re a snorkeller or diver – or prefer to admire it from a glass-bottom boat – the cruise stop at Airlie Beach gives you the perfect chance to experience this underwater mosaic in whichever way takes your fancy.

Above water, many islands grace the Queensland coast, each with their own attractions. such as vast seabird colonies on Willis Island off Cairns, which you’ll gaze over during this scenic part of the cruise and a combination of resort life and beautiful landscapes in the Whitsundays. Tangalooma Resort on Moreton Island, which lies east of Brisbane and is a popular shore excursion, is one of the world’s largest sand islands, with gorgeous beaches and sand dunes just asking to be explored by quad bike. Moreton Island’s waters are great for dolphin spotting and hide several shipwrecks for adventurous snorkelers and divers. Carnival also offers short 4 day cruises to this dreamy destination too.

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The whole Queensland coast is also prime whale-spotting territory as these giants of the sea migrate between June and November. Occasionally sightseeing boats get so close you can see the barnacles attached to the whales’ heads – a truly wonderful animal encounter.

Far North Queensland is something else again. Port Douglas is a classy, sophisticated tropical getaway destination on the edge of the Daintree wilderness. Cairns – whose cruise port is at Yorkey’s Knob – is a bigger town for those after the full range of entertainment and attractions. In the hinterland, you’ll find rain-forest dotted with clear pools, sugarcane fields, cattle stations and escarpment towns such as Kuranda, best reached on the scenic train that chugs by waterfalls.

It isn’t just Queensland’s gorgeous coast that makes this a hot destination, however. Brisbane is the country’s fastest-growing city and has left its reputation for provincial tedium behind thanks to its lovely revamped cityscape, impressive dining scene and quality museums. The centre of the action is South Bank on the Brisbane River, where you’ll find any number of great places to eat alongside the world-renowned Gallery of Modern Art.

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To the south of Brisbane, the Gold Coast is legendary for its theme parks, surfing and seemingly endless beach parties. Meanwhile, the Sunshine Coast north of Brisbane combines urban chic with an extravagant coastline and a more laidback lifestyle. Upmarket Noosa has become famous for its restaurants, while family-oriented Mooloolaba is packed with cafés and bars overlooking surely one of Australia’s best beaches. A great range of attractions lies inland, including Australia Zoo and the Mooloolaba River for kayaking and paddleboarding.

They’re all part of the contrasts that makes Queensland one of the world’s go-to holiday destinations.