Recently, when one of P&O Cruises’ two newest ships Pacific Eden docked in Cairns to begin its first residency, a new era of choice began for cruise passengers in the North Queensland city and opened up more cruise options for locals than ever before.

But what is it like sailing from North Queensland’s largest city, particularly if you don’t live nearby? We’ve taken a look at what you need to know if starting or ending a cruise in Cairns.

Make sure you can get to Cairns without breaking the bank.

Unless you live in the area, you’ll most likely need to fly into Cairns to join your cruise. Fights are likely to be expensive on the days surrounding departure day, so a good way to avoid this is to look into extending your stay or spend time in surrounding areas, such as Port Douglas.

This will not only drive your holiday dollar further but you’ll also get a chance to discover one of Australia’s best holiday destinations. If you can’t extend your trip, consider taking the train or driving from Cairns to Townsville in order to access cheaper flights from Townsville, which won’t be quite as heavily booked.

Take advantage of the location of Cairns Cruise Terminal.

While we all love getting onboard our ship as soon as possible on embarkation day, Cairns has a rather small terminal, so getting 1500 passengers off the previous cruise and 1500 more on the next one can put a significant strain on the small facility.

However Cairns is well set up in that its main terminal (also known as Trinity Wharf) is located very close to the centre of town as you can get. Simply drop your luggage off with the porters and feel free to wander down to the Cairns waterfront for a spot of lunch or some last minute shopping.

Toot toot! Chugga Chugga! There is parking for your big red car.

If you’re in that zone where Cairns is within relatively easy reach by car and you’ve therefore made the decision to drive, you’re in luck! The most affordable cruise parking in Australia is available right at the terminal for quite an amazingly low rate of $9 per day. While the parking spaces are not shaded, it is secure and will ensure your car is safely stowed away and won’t see you come home to a pile of parking tickets.

There are some amazing bargains to be snapped up.

Due to the small number of locals who can set sail with short notice, some amazing last minute deals have become commonly associated with many Cairns departures, so keep your eyes fixed on cruises leaving from here if you can travel at the last minute.

Look at back-to-back cruising from Cairns.

The variety of different itineraries on from Cairns can allow for some amazing back-to-back options including special repositioning voyages from Singapore that call in ports such as Dili, East Timor and Komodo Island, Indonesia and an amazing port intensive South Pacific cruise.

Most cruises from Cairns have no more than three sea days.

If you’re not a fan of days at sea, then Cairns may be the best departure point for you. Most itineraries from the city feature few, if any, consecutive sea days due to its proximity to the South Pacific islands. Generally, you’ll only have to contend with one to and from Papua New Guinea and no more than two on the way back from the Solomon Islands or South Pacific.

You could be cruising with a slightly older passenger mix

The additional time and money needed to travel between another city and Cairns, as opposed to cruising from Sydney and Brisbane also sees the average guest age on these voyages skewed slightly toward the older brackets as opposed to the typical P&O voyage.

With that in mind, expect lots of more mature childless couples or empty-nesters looking to really discover each destination as opposed to being there for the “typical” cruise experience. This is great if you’re looking for a relaxing, more subdued cruise, however if you’re cruising with kids, prepare them to encounter fewer people their own age than usual.

Have you cruised from Cairns? How did you find the general travel process from this city? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to check out our Cairns Destination Guide!