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Where Do Cruise Ships Dock In Airlie Beach?

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Talia Jones
Updated Tue 30 Jan 2024

A large cruise ship in the ocean

Cruise ships that visit Airlie Beach dock at the Port of Airlie marina in the Cruise Whitsundays terminal.

Airlie Beach in Queensland’s Whitsundays is a sunshine-filled paradise, with the 74 Whitsunday Islands and Great Barrier Reef at its doorstep. The region is popular amongst backpackers, grey nomads, adventure enthusiasts, and families with young children. With plenty of day and overnight tours to the reef and islands, a wide selection of fine dining restaurants, lively bars, charming boutiques and stunning rainforests to explore, it’s no wonder Airlie Beach appeals to people from all walks of life. 

Airlie Beach is also a port town. Cruise ships from near and far dock in Airlie Beach year-round, bringing in hundreds of guests who spend their time sightseeing, booking day tours, and shopping. Cruise ships from Brisbane, Cairns, Sydney, Singapore, and New Zealand make Airlie Beach a stop on their journeys. 


Where do cruise ships dock in Airlie Beach?

 

A girl standing under a sign that reads 'Welcome to the Whitsundays'

Cruise ships in Airlie Beach dock at the Cruise Whitsundays terminal at the Port of Airlie. Guests from the ships are transferred via ferry or tender to the Airlie Beach cruise ship terminal for the day where they are free to roam the town. The Port of Airlie is located on the close outskirts of Airlie’s main street and is walking distance from the town’s centre. If you've booked a day tour to get out to the islands, then you'll likely depart from the Coral Sea Marina. Coral Sea is a deluxe marina with upscale eateries and stunning views of the Whitsunday surroundings, and it is only a short taxi ride from the Port of Airlie, where you'll be docking. 

To find out what days cruise ships are docking in Airlie Beach, visit our 2024 cruise ship schedule


Why do cruise ships make Airlie Beach a port of call?

 

A girl blonde hair facing a sign that says 'Airlie Beach'

Cruise ships dock in Airlie Beach for a number of reasons. Airlie is a dreamy holiday destination with a year-round tropical climate which attracts travellers from within Australia, and the world, to escape the cold and spend time in the sunshine. Not only is Airlie Beach known for its warm weather, it’s also the gateway to both the Great Barrier Reef, and the Whitsunday Islands where you can find the world-famous Whitehaven Beach with its pure silica sands. There are daily tours to both the reef and the islands that depart Coral Sea Marina and Port of Airlie. Airlie Beach also has a collection of divine restaurants, bars, pubs, and cafes all with their own holiday aesthetics, live music, and trivia or karaoke nights. The town itself is also buzzing with backpackers, laid-back travellers, and families in holiday mode which truly gives the town a vibrant energy, which is addictive! 


What can you do in Airlie Beach as a cruise ship passenger?

 

A group of people walking down a bush path to a beach

If your port of call is Airlie Beach, you likely have up to 6-8 hours to spare for activities in the town. Luckily, there are plenty of things to do for cruise ship passengers in Airlie Beach that will only take up a small portion of your day.

Here are some fun ideas for activities if you're on a cruise to Airlie Beach!

  • Private charter: A half-day or full-day private charter allows you to get out to the islands and curate your own itinerary to suit your schedule. Salty is the perfect vessel that suits around 5-8 guests for a fun day of snorkelling and exploring. 

  • Jetski tourZip around the Whitsunday Islands on a fun and exhilarating jetski tour! Spot marine life and have a blast on the water. 

  • Scenic flight: Soar up high and admire the stunning islands and reefs from the sky. You can see the famous Heart Reef, Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet, and more. Plus, a scenic flight only takes about an hour - perfect for those short on time. 

  • Glass bottom boat tour: Learn about the reef and its special creatures off of Airlie Beach's shores from a knowledgeable local guide. 

  • Airlie Beach Markets: If your stopover is on a Saturday morning, stroll through the Airlie Beach Markets and shop for souvenirs!

  • Airlie Beach Lagoon: The perfect place for swimming or sunbathing right in downtown Airlie Beach. It's a family-friendly place for kids to splash around as well!

  • Bicentennial Boardwalk: Take in the picturesque views between Airlie Beach and Cannonvale on this 4km return coastal walk. 


How do I get to Airlie Beach?

 

A shot of Airlie Beach's main beach with buildings in the background

If you’re not a cruise ship passenger, you might be wondering how to visit Airlie Beach? Thankfully, there are endless options. You could fly into the Whitsunday Coast Airport in Proserpine, which is only a 30 minute drive to Airlie. Most popular cities within Australia offer direct flights to Proserpine. Other ways to visit Airlie Beach include via train, bus, or boat. You could even drive yourself to Airlie from anywhere in Australia. Although it would take a long time, there’s plenty to see along Australia’s East Coast to make the journey worth it! 


Most cruise ships that travel up and down the East Coast of Australia have more than one port of call so if you would like more information on where the cruise ships stop, our local experts can help!

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