Many cruise lines sail along the scenic Queensland coast but few have quite the presence in the region as P&O Cruises. Over the last few months, the Australian line has significantly increased the number of ports visited by its ships, on a range of different voyages beginning from parts of Australia along the east coast and even from Asia.

Such in-depth access to the state opens up a number of regional centres and cities along the coast of the Sunshine State that a cruise traveller may not really have considered as worth visiting but which are home to some subtle but utterly memorable attractions & experiences.

Some of these destinations are picturesque islands, others are little more than sandbars while some are major cities. Come for a tour of P&O’s Queensland map and find out how you can see and access each one of them.


Of course, the Queensland capital city is a major port for P&O Cruises and in fact sees at least one of the line’s five ships based there practically year-round catering to the state’s cruise travellers. If you’ve sailed from another part of Australia and are only there for the day, the city offers an eclectic mix of city and suburban excursions including a day trip to the nearby Gold Coast, Australia Zoo or to the local hinterland for some bush walking.

How you can get there:

If you’re not beginning your cruise from Brisbane, you can visit the Queensland capital on an 11-night Papua New Guinea voyage from Sydney onboard Pacific Jewel or the 10-night Barrier Reef Discovery sailing on Pacific Pearl, also from Sydney.

Moreton Island

One of the world’s largest sand masses, Moreton Island is just off the coast of Brisbane yet offers such a different visitor experience. It’s a paradise for divers and snorkelers thanks to a number of ancient shipwrecks which came just after European settlement began on the island and just before the first lighthouse was constructed. An original whaling station on Moreton Island exists today in a totally different form, that being Tangalooma Island Resort – a popular spot for feeding a local population of dolphins which guests can visit while in town.

Speaking of dolphins, the mammals are as much an attraction of the region as the island itself, and P&O guests can enjoy a Wild Dolphin Discovery as one of several shore excursions available during their visit. Other popular options include a helicopter ride over the island or an opportunity to be kitted out with snorkeling gear to explore the nearby nautical wrecks.

How you can get there:

Moreton Island is the first stop on another, albeit longer, 12-night Barrier Reef Discovery cruise which goes as far north as Cairns and departs from Sydney on Pacific Jewel. The island also plays host to a number of themed cruises, including Food & Wine, Christmas and New Year’s Eve sailings. It will also feature on an upcoming State of Origin rugby league itinerary on Pacific Dawn which departs Brisbane, bound for Sydney and bringing a shipload of Queensland Maroons fans to attend the first game of the annual series.

Mooloolaba (Sunshine Coast)

Just a little further up the coast, Mooloolaba joined P&O’s network map around a year ago and opened up the popular tourist hotspot of the Sunshine Coast to its passengers. Lined border to border with world-class beaches, the port is well set up for tourism with a swathe of natural and man-made attractions close to the shore.

Through most of the middle of the year, the Sunshine Coast lives off the whale watching industry, and if your P&O voyage visits at the right time of year, you too can bear witness to pods of migrating whales either heading north to warmer breeding grounds or south for the summer, sometimes with newborn baby whales well in tow.

How you can get there:

Cruises from both Melbourne and Sydney often include a stop in Mooloolaba at one end of your cruise and Moreton Island at the other end. Crowds often pack ships for a leisurely Christmas or New Year getaway on Pacific Jewel, while the destination is also popular for a quick winter escape on short four-night sailings from Sydney on Pacific Aria.