First, find a reputable agent, preferably a really good cruise specialist, and they'll be happy to tell you all about the many cruises that visit that part of the world.
In order to do the Great Barrier Reef, you have to do a cruise that either visits, ends, or starts in Cairns. So your agent will be able to search and provide all the options because there are many available - many different cruise lines, cruise ships, itineraries, and lengths of cruises.
With that said, take a look at Royal Caribbean, Princess, Celebrity, Holland America, Cunard, Seabourn, Crystal, Paul Gauguin, just to mention a few.
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I strongly agree with the earlier posting, you need a travel professional and preferably one that is a Certified Destination Specialist in Australia to assist with this booking. I have made this trek (Great Barrier Reef) before and found it best done with the small ships of Coral Princess Cruises. There’s no better way to discover the Reef, islands and rainforests of this World Heritage-listed region than aboard a 7 night small ship cruise from Cairns. Underwater world hides just beneath the surface and whether you experience the Reef by glass bottom boat, snorkelling or SCUBA diving, it is a mystical world filled with coral, marine life and vibrantly coloured fish. This is undoubtedly the ultimate Australian holiday experience, and a ‘must do’ for any traveller visiting the Great Barrier Reef. The cruise departs on Fridays at 11:00am from Cairns For guests with more time and a great sense of adventure, our 7-night Cairns – Pelorus Island – Lizard Island – Cairns cruise offers the ultimate Great Barrier Reef experience! Combining both the 3 and 4-night cruises you will discover everything that this memorable region has to offer; the best parts of the Reef, spectacular rainforest trails and beautiful tropical islands including Lizard and Dunk, along with private island paradise, Pelorus. See if your travel professional can get you booked on Oceanic Discoverer it is the most recently launched ship of its type operating in Australian waters today. Accommodating a maximum of just 72 guests, Oceanic Discoverer’s onboard accommodation comprises 36 spacious modern staterooms. You can select from Bridge, Promenade or Main Deck staterooms offering a choice of twin through to junior king-size doubles. Additionally Coral Princess accommodates 50 guests in 25 rooms and promises a unique cruising experience in the Australian coastal waters of the Great Barrier Reef, Cape York & Arnhem Land and Kimberley regions. Following a full $1million refurbishment during 2012, guests cruising aboard Coral Princess will enjoy the modern comforts of small ship cruising in the relaxed atmosphere unique to Coral Princess Cruises, and Coral Princess II operates year-round on the Great Barrier Reef. She is the ideal ship for maneuvering amongst the islands and reefs of this World Heritage-listed wonderland. At just 35 metres in length, she is the perfect size to get you up close and personal with the reef, and accommodates just 44 guests in 22 rooms. Fully refurbished in 2013 and featuring the facilities and comforts of much bigger ships, aboard Coral Princess II you will discover the best of Tropical North Queensland in unrivalled style.
If you have any more questions I will be glad to help. Cairns can be difficult to get around and you need to be close to the port in the morning so I would look at accommodating yourself in the Esplanade area.
Last edited by storybookcruises.com; February 7th, 2014 at 02:45 AM.
We're currently booked on Solstice's GBR cruise for March 2017 but I'm thinking of switching it for a 7 day land trip in Port Douglas to give us more time on the reef. Cruise line excursion prices are outrageous and unfortunately due to the timing in port, they make private excursions quite difficult.